Christmas revellers in London and the south east could face a thirsty time, if workers at a drinks’ distribution depot take industrial action in mid-December, Unite, the country’s largest union, has warned.
Pubs, clubs and restaurants could be hit as seasonal festivities reach a peak, if drivers employed by DHL Tradeteam at Enfield in north London vote for industrial action over ‘appalling’ working conditions.
The kernel of the dispute is that DHL took over the contract for the delivery of Carlsberg’s products earlier this month and since then working conditions for the 70 drivers, and dray and warehouse staff have seriously deteriorated.
Unite said the new Carlsberg contract is ‘the straw that has broken the camel’s back’ and has led to excessive workloads. The lack of organisation at the depot has meant that many workers are working the maximum 15 hour day or very close to it and this has impacted on other delivery contracts at Enfield.
The brands that will be affected, if the 30 delivery lorries don’t leave the depot, will not only be Carlsberg, but drinks from such firms as Brains, Coors, Greene King, and Mitchell and Butler.
Unite regional officer Paul Travers said: “Our members are being treated appallingly, following the advent of the Carlsberg contact. This additional work, which has not been taken into account by the management, is the straw that has broken the camel’s back.
“When the workers come into work every morning they know they are being sent out with excessive workloads, which will take them up to the legal maximum of 15 hours to complete.
“There are serious health and safety implications here for the drivers who are physically drained by the bosses’ unreasonable demands.
“We have had talks with senior management at DHL Tradeteam, but they are deaf to our legitimate concerns. Profit margins seem to be their only consideration.
“We are putting down a strong marker that deliveries in the run-up to the Christmas period will be drastically affected across London and the south east – there will be a lot of unhappy thirsty customers at pubs, clubs and restaurants.
“But the health and safety of our members is our paramount concern. We have seen already one lorry involved in an accident, something we have warned would happen many times over recent weeks; thankfully, no one was hurt.
“Before the industrial action ballot process starts, the management has a window of opportunity to sit down and hold constructive talks with Unite to reach a fair settlement with realistic expectations of what our members can achieve during the working day.”
Notes to editors:
For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940. Unite press office is on: 020 3371 2065 Email: email@example.com
- Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.