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Coke’s Dasna plant reopens as workers reach settlement

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NEW DELHI :
Workers at Coca-Cola’s plant in Dasna, Ghaziabad, that was recently sold to the beverage company’s local bottling partner, have reached a settlement with the new owner. The plant has commenced operations after staying non-operational for close to two months since Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages Pvt. Ltd (HCCB), the company-owned bottler, divested the unit to Moon Beverages.

In early December, HCCB had announced plans to sell its bottling operations in territories in north India to its existing bottlers—Kandhari Beverages, Moon Beverages, and Ladhani Group (SLMG Beverages)—to streamline its business and create regional scale. These included plants in Varanasi, Ghaziabad and Jammuu.

However, workers at the plants resisted their transfer to the new owners over concerns of job security and guarantee of future employment causing disruption in production.

A resolution has since been reached at the plant in Dasna now owned by New Delhi-based Moon Beverages part of Sanjeev Agrawal’s MMG Group. “Things are now settled,” Agrawal told Mint. As part of the settlement, workers at this plant have been offered between Rs3 lakh and Rs4.5 lakh as joining bonus, according to a person familiar with the matter. Over 350 workers are part of the plant at Dasna, along with other staff employed in other functions at the plant. Declining to be named, the person said that Moon Beverages has agreed to provide the same facilities as HCCB. “… all workers are valued members of the Coca-Cola family, and the local bottlers have kept their pay and benefits unchanged,” the spokesperson of Coca Cola India added.

The Dasna plant in the industrial belt of Ghaziabad is one of the largest in India with a daily supply in the peak summer season crossing 100,000 cases. Brands such as Thums Up, Sprite, Coca-Cola, and Minute Maid are some of the beverages bottled at the unit and the truce was important to keep the supply going before the summer months when demand peaks.

Meanwhile, Coca-Cola has also discontinued operations at its existing old plant in Jammu—from where the sales staff have been offered jobs at another, much-larger bottling plant run by its local bottling partner in the region. “Specifically with respect to Jammu, very recently we commissioned a state of the art mega plants with enhanced capacity very close to the existing plant. Employees who have worked in this factory were offered VRS or relocation. These decisions were taken keeping in mind the plant capacity utilization, meeting the demand for now and for future,” said the Coca-Cola India spokesperson said.

The refranchising of bottling operations in India, helped the company recorded a net gain of $73 million for the year ended December 31, 2019, Coca-Cola said in its global earnings announcement late last month.

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