Strike extended at Cyprus soft drinks plant

Workers on strike at Cyprus?s soft drink producer Lanitis Brothers Ltd, a unit of Greece?s Coca-Cola HBC, will continue their industrial action until Monday, a union official said.

About 350 workers at the plant went on strike on Thursday after the company decided not to compensate them with a 1.7 percent wage increase for the loss of purchasing power suffered in the second half of 2011, Giorgos Kasouris, an official at SEK, one of the two major unions on the east Mediterranean island, said on Thursday on the phone.

Workers at KEAN Soft Drinks Ltd, who also went on strike on Thursday, will return to work Friday after the company agreed to raise their wages, he said.

Their decision to unilaterally freeze wages violates a ?sacred institution, which is not negotiable in any way,? said Sotiris Fellas, deputy general secretary at PEO, Cyprus?s left-wing trade union. T

he soft drink producer?s decision followed a proposal by the Cypriot Employers and Industrialist Federation (EIF) that a complete two-year wage freeze in the public sector should also apply in the private sector.

After unions threatened strike action in response, Sotiroula Charalambous, minister of labor and social insurance and former PEO union official, brokered a compromise that exempts loss-making enterprises from an obligation to grant pay rises, Philios Zachariades, chairman of EIF, said in a telephone interview on Wednesday. [Bloomberg]