Lucozade Ribena

Lucozade and Ribena supplier Suntory Beverage & Food GB & I has averted a second week of strike action at its Coleford site in Gloucestershire, after agreeing a pay increase for workers.

Unite union, which represents over 180 Suntory employees in Gloucestershire, had warned of Ribena and Lucozade shortages ahead of a seven day strike at the beginning of the month. But the group announced today that the next phase of industrial action, which was due to begin today,and last until March 7th, has been called off after a 5.5 percent pay increase was agreed.

The union claimed staff were promised a review should inflation exceed five per cent before June 2023 - a promise that Suntory had failed to honour. However, following the initial industrial action earlier this month, fresh talks were held and an improved offer was made. The workers will now receive a back payment effective from April 2023.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “The unity of our members was critical. Once Suntory saw that members were not prepared to budge it returned to the bargaining table with an improved offer.

 “This result again demonstrates how Unite is actively delivering improvements to the jobs, pay and conditions of our members.”

Unite regional officer, Michael Hobbs, added: “Our members should not have to choose between heating or eating. The cost-of-living crisis is hard to navigate so this pay increase provides much needed support during a difficult economic period.”

Karl Ottomar, supply chain director, Suntory Beverage and Food GB&I, said: “Suntory Beverage and Food GB&I has reached an agreement with our union and employee representatives. This pay negotiation agreement represents a generous offer to our employees and cements our position as a top employer in the region.

“We’re pleased that our focus can now be directed to strengthening our customer service and producing our iconic Lucozade and Ribena drinks in the heart of the Forest of Dean.”

However, Unite made clear that there remained several issues of “major concern” which would be addressed during forthcoming negotiations.

Hobbs said: “The deal that Unite secured was for a total pay increase from 2023 of 5.5 per cent, this is a two per cent increase on what had originally been awarded.

Negotiations for the 2024 pay increase will begin on 1 April, Unite will also be addressing several other issues including with workers’ shifts, after a recently imposed change from Suntory.”