MADRID -- Coca-Cola (IW 500/27) said today it will to proceed with laying off workers at its bottling plants in Spain after unions refused to strike a deal.
Striking workers had until Friday to reach a deal with managers on the company's plan to close four factories, which labor unions say threatens nearly 1,200 jobs.
The company said many workers had accepted its offer of early retirement, relocation or voluntary redundancy for 1,190 employees at the plants.
"We are extremely surprised that, after the support shown for the company's offer by most of the workers consulted, the union representatives rejected the conditions," said Angel Lopez de Ocariz, communications director for Iberian Partners, a Coca-Cola subsidiary. "Iberian Partners will decide, within the legally established deadline of two weeks, in what form the redundancy plan will be applied."
Unions rejected the offer ahead of Friday's deadline, saying it would not save the plants.
Workers Warn of Legal Action
Workers have been on strike at the plants all month. They said they would bring legal action when the company pushes on with the plan.
"Coca-Cola is not 'the Real Thing' for Spanish society," Ramon Gorriz, one of the leaders of the CCOO labor union, told a news conference on Thursday. "It is an exploitative multinational which is only after profits."
CCOO blamed the dispute on the Spanish government's 2012 labor reform, which made it easier to hire and fire workers. The government said that was necessary to strengthen the economy.
A double recession over the past five years has pushed Spain's unemployment rate up to 26%.
"At 45 years old and with the job market in Spain the way it is, it will be difficult for me to find another job," said one of the striking workers, Johnny Garcia, while demonstrating in Madrid on Thursday.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2014