Ice cream strike leaves employers sweating

Ice cream strike leaves employers sweating
Deep freeze: employees in Spain's ice cream factories want industry owners to prepare a "coherent" new collective agreement. File photo: Javier Rapoport/Flickr
Workers at Spain's ice cream factories are downing tools on Friday as negotiations heat up with the industry's employer body.
Tensions between staff on the factory floor and the Spanish Association of Ice Cream Makers (AEFH) have been sticky for some time now.
Since June 28th, workers in a sector which counts among its members have been on a go-slow, switching off machines for two hours a day.
Now though, employees in an industry which directly affects from 2,000 to 3,500 jobs are ratcheting up the pressure on their employers.
A 24-hour strike is set for Friday, or just when much of Spain is experiencing its first real heatwave of the summer.
With 95 percent of staff having supported  previous strikes, participation is expected to be high, Spanish general union CCOO said in a statement.
The row between workers and the AEFH comes because of a stalemate over a new collective employment agreement for the sector.
The previous deal reached its expiry date at the end of 2010 and a new draft landed on the table in 2011 but talks have been in deep freeze since then.
If a new deal isn't struck soon, the bargaining process could come to a halt after new Spanish laws put a timeline on negotiations for new industry workplace agreements.
Workers in the sector are now threatening an indefinite strike if demands aren't met.

Unions including the CCOO and the General Workers Union, or UGT, initially forged a plan with the AEFH which would have kept the current workplace agreement in place until the end of this year.
But the CCOO said industry owners had treated that plan with "contempt".
"We are open to dialogue but not in exchange for making returning workers to the stone age," the union said in a statement.
"If they want to avoid this strike, they need to prepare a reasonable and coherent proposal". 

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