Workers at Coca-Cola HBC (Bottlers) Ireland have begun industrial action today at the company’s main Irish distribution centres.

Pickets have been placed on Coca-Cola HBC depots in Tuam, Cork, Dublin, Waterford and Tipperary.

The strike follows the decision by Coca-Cola HBC to outsource 130 jobs to third-party operators.

According to SIPTU, last week the 130 Coca-Cola HBC drivers and warehouse staff involved in the dispute received letters from three private transport companies offering them new employment at what the trade union described as “greatly disimproved pay and working conditions and containing threats of redundancy”.

The companies, Brian Daly Transport Services Ltd of Ratoath County Meath, Liam Carroll Haulage Ltd of Thurles and Kiely’s Distribution Ltd of Tipperary Town in Co Tipperary, told Coca-Cola HBC staff that they would be required to accept reduced pay, loss of pensions and increased hours of work when they transfer to their employment, SIPTU said.

According to SIPTU branch organiser, John Dunne, the letters are in breach of the Transfer of Undertaking regulations, which require employers to guarantee workers the same terms and conditions when their employment is transferred in such circumstances.

Coca-Cola HBC in Ireland is owned by the Greek-based Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company SA which is, in turn, part-owned (23pc) by the Coca-Cola Company of Atlanta, US.