Strike halts Coca-Cola FEMSA units in Venezuela

Mon Jan 17, 2011 4:28pm EST

* Plants offline since Friday over pay dispute

* Union member says more talks among workers soon

CARACAS Jan 17 (Reuters) - A strike over pay in Venezuela has paralyzed plants run by Mexico's Coca-cola FEMSA (FMX.N) (FMSAUBD.MX) since Friday, union sources said on Monday.

The union that includes production workers has not accepted a collective pay deal proposed by the company. The strike is centered on the plants in the cities of Maracaibo and Valencia and involves about 1,300 employees.

"We will meet them (production workers) soon, so that we can resume dialogue with the company, because that is the way to do it," said Sixto Materan, an official with another union of distribution workers.

In a statement by Coca-Cola FEMSA late on Friday, the company said it had submitted a proposal providing a significant improvement in wages and other benefits, and that the strike increased the risk of shortages in the country.

Proposals on pay by the production union would raise labor costs by 150 percent, the company said, and were being made "without justification or arguments to support them."

Coca-Cola FEMSA Venezuela was founded in May 2003 when FEMSA bought the largest Coca-Cola franchise in Latin America. Coca-Cola FEMSA has operations in Mexico, Colombia, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Brazil and Argentina. (Reporting by Mario Naranjo; Writing by Daniel Wallis, editing by Martin Golan) ((daniel.wallis@thomsonreuters.com; +58 212 277 2660; Reuters Messaging: daniel.wallis.reuters.com@reuters.net))

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