Workers at Suntory Beverage & Food Factory in Colefored, Gloucestershire, Strike Over Pay Dispute

by Ella

Workers at the Suntory Beverage & Food factory in Colefored, Gloucestershire, have commenced a strike amidst a disagreement over pay. Members of the workers union Unite have halted operations this week, citing management’s failure to address the ongoing cost-of-living crisis as the impetus for the strike.

According to Unite, workers were presented with a two-year pay deal effective from April 1, 2022, with a provision from Suntory to reassess the second year’s increase if inflation exceeded 5% between January and June 2023.


Despite inflation surpassing the 5% threshold, Unite asserts that the manufacturer did not uphold its commitment to revisiting the pay increase. Unite general secretary Sharon Graham accused Suntory of neglecting to offer its members a fair wage increase, emphasizing the union’s unwavering dedication to prioritizing the jobs, pay, and conditions of its members. Graham reiterated Unite’s unequivocal support for the workers at Suntory.


This strike action marks the first of its kind at the Royal Forest Factory since the 1970s.


In response to the strike, Suntory Beverage & Food’s supply chain director, Karl Ottomar, stated, “We are actively engaged in discussions with our trade union and employee representatives to secure a fair and mutually beneficial resolution. While we have been notified of a one-week strike at our manufacturing site beginning February 5, 2024, we remain hopeful for a prompt agreement to redirect our focus towards the future.”


Ottomar underscored the company’s competitive remuneration package, highlighting that employees involved in the strike have received two pay increases and an additional one-off payment since 2022 in acknowledgment of their contributions and to alleviate the impact of the cost-of-living crisis.

Unite has warned of potential shortages of popular beverages such as Lucozade and Ribena, leading to empty supermarket shelves. Regional officer Michael Hobbs attributed the strike to what he deemed Suntory’s unreasonable actions.

However, Ottomar reassured that the company has contingency plans in place to mitigate disruption during the strike. “Throughout this week, the factory will remain operational, with production lines continuing to manufacture drinks for customers nationwide,” he affirmed. “SBF GB&I remains steadfast in supporting all employees, suppliers, and customers with fairness and consistency.”



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