Coca-Cola plant workers strike in Calgary

·2 min read
Employees walk the picket line at the Coca-Cola facility in northeast Calgary on Monday.  (Mike Symington/CBC - image credit)
Employees walk the picket line at the Coca-Cola facility in northeast Calgary on Monday. (Mike Symington/CBC - image credit)

Workers at the Coca-Cola plant in Calgary went out on strike Monday morning in a dispute between their union and the company over job security and outsourcing issues.

Teamsters Local Union 987 of Alberta said in a release that its 268 members have seen their job hours outsourced to third-party contractors and are struggling to make enough money as a result.

Going on strike was a last resort for the workers, said Brock Penner, business agent for the Teamsters 987.

"They've said enough is enough and we're going to stand up for our families because we deserve the job protection based on the fact that we've been so dedicated as employees for you as a company," he said.

Brock Penner, business agent of Teamster Local Union 987, says strike action against Coca-Cola Canada Bottling Ltd. in Calgary was taken as a last resort.
Brock Penner, business agent of Teamster Local Union 987, says strike action against Coca-Cola Canada Bottling Ltd. in Calgary was taken as a last resort. (Mike Symington/CBC)

"Coca-Cola has chosen to walk away from the table, based on the fact that we were looking for job protection for these employees. We wanted language in the collective agreement that clearly stated that their jobs would be protected today and tomorrow, for the life of this agreement. And the company said, no, that is too restrictive."

Coca-Cola Canada Bottling Ltd. said in an emailed statement to CBC News that it offered a proposal that would provide long-term stability, wage increases and other improved working conditions while still meeting the needs of its business in extraordinary times.

"After months of negotiations and several mediation sessions, we are disappointed that the union representing employees at our Calgary facility has chosen to stop negotiating and go on strike," said communications manager Nicola Krishna.

"This is an unnecessary and unfortunate situation."

Coca-Cola said it is prepared to return to the bargaining table.

The Teamsters 987 voted 94 per cent in favour of strike action on March 4.

The members affected are employed in warehouse, production, distribution and equipment service roles.

The strike action is likely to affect the delivery of beverage products to Alberta customers, including restaurants, grocery and retail stores, the union said.