21 December 2023

Regional Coca Cola workers locked out amid negoations

Regional Electrical Trades Union (ETU) members working at Coca Cola Euro Pacific Partners have been locked out of their workplace from Caloundra to Cairns, Toowoomba Tannum Sands.

Workers are set to start protected industrial action, and in response to partial work bans, including refusal to work overtime, and after hours call outs, the company has locked workers out.

Workers have been notified that while any work bans are in place, Coke is refusing to pay them for work completed.

“The work bans were set to commence tonight, midnight on Friday 22 December, and the company has notified workers that they will not be paid at all should they participate in even the smallest work bans,” says ETU State Organiser Scott Reichmann.

“The protected industrial action is completely legal, and union members have followed all proper processes to notify the company. It’s their right to take action,” says Mr Reichmann.

The protected industrial action is part of an ongoing enterprise agreement negotiations. One of the claims regional workers are fighting for is pay equity with their South East Queensland equivalents. Workers in South East Queensland are currently paid more than employees in the regions while performing exactly the same work.

“For years, these workers have been paid less than others performing the same work at the same company. The company is treating regional workers as second-class citizens with this blatant pay discrepancy compared to South East Queensland workers,” says Mr Reichman.

“We are particularly concerned about our members in Cairns, who are already trying to recover from the devastation left behind by Cyclone Jasper, and now the company is trying to starve them into submission,”

The workers affected by the lockouts manage servicing and repair of soft drink guns, vending machines, fridges in service stations and the like, in hospitality businesses and fast food restaurants including Hungry Jack’s.

“Throughout the holiday season, and as we enter the peak tourism season in Cairns, restaurants and bars, and local businesses and even casinos will be impacted and will experience disruptions at a time when the whole community is trying to get itself back on its feet following the destruction of Cyclone Jasper. If the company persists in taking this action against its workers, the expense will be worn by its customers and the community.

“We demand the company end the lock out, negotiate fairly with its workforce, and recognize the contribution to the community these workers provide,” says Mr Reichman.

For more, call Scott Reichman on 0437 184 399 or Kristin Perissinotto on 0448 633 858.