A SECOND week of strikes at the factory in Coleford that makes Ribena and Lucozade drinks has been averted after an agreement on pay was reached.

Workers at the Suntory factory were due to walk out on Wednesday (February 28) until next Thursday (March 5).

Members of Unite the Union went on strike for a week at the beginning of February.

The agreement between Unite and employers Suntory Beverage & Food, GB& I will see workers receive a 5.5 per cent pay increase.

The increase will be backdated to April 2023

The Union’s general secretary Sharon Graham said the unity of the 180 workers was crucial to securing the agreement.

The company says the pay offer is “very generous”.

Further talks will now take place to try and address further areas of concern for the union.

Unite regional officer, Michael Hobbs, said: “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.

“Despite this agreement there remains several issues of major concern for our members at Suntory and Unite will be addressing them during forthcoming negotiations.”

Sharon Graham added:  ““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 says the 5.5 per cent offer was two per cent better than what was originally on the table.

Negotiations for the 2024 pay increase will begin on 1 April, Unite will also be addressing several other issues including recent changes to shifts.

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.”

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