The entire workforce at a Coca-Cola plant in the Irish Republic rang in sick in a one-day protest over its planned closure and the redundancy terms .

A total of 250 workers - the same number as took the "sick day" - will lose their jobs when production is transferred from the Irish border town of Drogheda to newer plants in Ballina, County Mayo, and Athy, County Kildare. The closure is due next September.

Coca-Cola has been a major employer in Drogheda for 30 years, with the plant contributing an estimated €25m a year to the local economy. Intensive efforts have been made by unions to save the jobs, including an appeal to the company headquarters in Atlanta. But management insisted the production transfer was necessary "for reasons of efficiency".

The company said it was offering displaced staff "a very generous redundancy package", plus the prospect of applying for 90 new jobs in Ballina and Athy.

But workers said they were unhappy with the redundancy terms and would press for a better deal. As the other plants were not unionised, Drogheda staff were unlikely to be taken on, they claimed

As a result of strong union representation, the Drog­heda workers are reportedly among the highest-paid production staff in the Republic .