* Management says has lost 15 pct of May sales
* Workers solder plant gates shut on wage demands
CARACAS, May 29 (Reuters) - A strike at the Venezuelan division of Coca-Cola Femsa , Latin America’s largest Coke bottler, reached its ninth day on Wednesday as the company said the stoppage had cost it 15 percent of its expected sales for the month.
Some 50 workers protesting for higher wages soldered shut the gates of the company’s largest plant in the central-western city of Valencia, preventing products and personnel from entering or leaving the compound, the company said.
“During the course of the strike, 15 percent of our sales at a national level have already been lost, what has not been sold will not be recovered,” Mariana Parma, director of corporate affairs at Coca-Cola Femsa Venezuela said, describing worker demands as “crazy.”
The company calls the strike “illegal” and “arbitrary” and said some parts of the country are already facing shortages of its products including Coca-Cola, bottled water and juice.
The capital of Caracas has not shown signs of shortages of Coca-Cola Femsa products, though consumers are scrambling to find basic goods ranging from corn flour to toilet paper.
Reuters was unable to reach strike leaders for a comment.
Mexico’s Coca-Cola Femsa, a joint venture of Coca-Cola Co and Mexican company Femsa , this year said 18 percent of its 2012 sales came from Venezuela.
The company has 34 bottling plants in Latin America.