Big jobs blow as Coca-Cola shuts Athy plant a day after sugar tax is introduced

Paula Campbell

Reporter:

Paula Campbell

coke sugar tax

Closure of Athy plant

Athy is reeling in the wake of the news earlier today that the Coca-Cola plant is to close with the loss of 82 jobs locally.

Coca-Cola announced that following a review of concentrate manufacturing, it is proposing the transfer of production from its Athy International Concentrates plant to Ballina Beverages in Co Mayo.

It has proposed that Athy International Concentrates will close on a phased basis from September 2018 to December 2019.

“It is devasating news for the town – there is no other way to describe it, “ said local councillor Mark Wall.

“It is one of the last manufacturing plants that we have in Athy. A lot of the employees have young family and mortages to pay so there isn’t that option of going to Ballina. The plant provided generational employment in Athy.”

The closure would result in the loss of 82 direct jobs, with 43 of those roles transferring to the Ballina plant.  Employees from Athy would have the option to transfer.  Coca-Cola will commence a period of consultation with employee representatives at Athy International Concentrates.

“These are highly skilled employees who have worked at the plant for 20 to 30 years,” he added .  “The company have even been hiring recently so that is why it is such a huge shock locally. There needs to be a government response to this. Athy has been over looked for too long. Athy needs employment – we need the IDA to get behind employment in Athy.”

A company spokesperson confirmed that plant has been operation in Athy for the past 45 years. Coca-Cola took over operations from Schwepes in 2000. 

“There are long standing employees here at the plant who have all been informed,” she said.

“It was really important that they were told before it was announced publicly. They will now have time to reflect on what they heard today before any consultations with staff unions take place.”

Last March the drinks manufacturer announced that in the region of between eight and ten employees at the plant would be made redundant.

The job losses came that time as part of an operational re-org that saw up to 50 redundancies across several other plants including Drogheda, Ballina and Athy.

The news of the re-organisation appeared at the time online before it had been announced to all employees. Described at the time as a 'handful of employees' that are impacted the news came as a huge shock to all involved at the plant located at Townparks Industrial Estate in Athy.

A tax into high surgar drinks such as Coke Classic was introduced in Ireland this week.