The threat of a late-summer beer drought moved closer today (Wednesday 11 August)  as about 1,000  draymen who deliver top brands, such as Heineken, voted for industrial action over a ‘paltry’ pay offer.

Unite the union said there will be two 24 hour strikes, the first starting at 10.00 on Tuesday 24 August and then at 10.00 on Thursday 2 September. This will be accompanied by an overtime ban and work to rule starting on 24 August and continuing up to Monday 15 November.

Unite said that its members, employed by GXO Logistics Drinks Ltd (previously XPO Logistics Drinks Ltd), are based at 26 sites and are responsible for about 40 per cent of the beer deliveries to pubs and other hospitality outlets across the UK.

Unite’s members voted for strike action by 97 per cent and for  industrial action short of a strike by 99 per cent  over the company’s offer of 1.4 per cent for 2021, which is well below the current RPI inflation rate of 3.9 per cent.

The workers’ anger over the pay offer has been further exacerbated by them losing between £8,000 and £10,000 over the last year due to furlough and lack of overtime, coupled with no pay increase for 2020. Unite had offered a manageable inflation increase which the company then rejected.

Unite national officer for the drinks industry Joe Clarke said: “Our members have suffered great financial hardship during the pandemic with some of them losing up to £10,000 through being furloughed and picking up no overtime, so it is no surprise that they have voted almost unanimously for industrial action. Our mandate for such action is resounding and reflects the deep anger felt by our members over their treatment by the bosses. 

“The company had offered a paltry 1.4 per cent which is well below the current RPI inflation rate of 3.9 per cent. 

“Meanwhile, the draymen have been working flat out currently to meet the high demand for beer volumes in our pubs as society continues to reopen. 

“The threat of a late summer beer drought now increases for Britain’s thirsty beer drinkers as our members make 40 per cent of the beer deliveries in the country. This disruption would be on top of the ‘pingdemic’ and the well-publicised HGV driver shortages that are already hitting the sector. 

“Now industrial action looms for late August, we call, once again, for the company to engage in meaningful negotiations regarding a decent pay increase for our members.” 

ENDS 

Notes to editors:

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Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.