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Beerworkers Archive


Post date: 09/08/2013 - 00:37

More Problems with Beer delivery in the UK

Kent’s pubs, clubs and brewers are bracing themselves for industrial action this week which is threatening to cause a beer shortage this week.

Deliver drivers, draymen and warehouse staff across the UK - including Kent - will stage a 24-hour walk-out on Wednesday and impose a strict work-to-rule system, refusing to work over-time.

And that means some of the biggest brands could run dry

Kent’s pubs, clubs and brewers are bracing themselves for industrial action this week which is threatening to cause a beer shortage this week.

Deliver drivers, draymen and warehouse staff across the UK - including Kent - will stage a 24-hour walk-out on Wednesday and impose a strict work-to-rule system, refusing to work over-time.

And that means some of the biggest brands could run dry

.

The dispute centres around the firm KNDL (Kuehne + Nagel Drinks Logistics). The union Unite has got involved, amid fears KNDL plans to eliminate small delivery depots around the country, and a poll supported strike action.

Some 30,000 venues will be hit including premises run by Wetherspoons, Enterprise Inns and Trust Inns, among others.

Deliveries of brands such as Fosters, Heineken, Kronenbourg, John Smith’s, Strowbow and soft drinks by Britvic will be affected.

Among the depots involved in the strike is the one in Faversham.

Unite’s Kent regional officer Peter Storey told us: “This will cause major significant disruption because it will mean there is no time to recover from the shortages caused by the strike.

“Pubs will definitely find themselves short of beer, but this is still something that can be avoided if KNDL gets around the table and talk.”

Enterprise Inns has dozens of pubs in Kent.

A spokesman said: “We have only just been informed of this strike action and are working hard on contingency plans.

“Our main priority is to ensure supplies are not seriously affected.”

Wetherspoons refused to comment.

The union is upset the logistics company is apparently planning to shed “hundreds of jobs” as it introduces three national super-hubs at Lothian, Thatcham and Wakefield to eventually replace the existing 29 smaller depots.

If the company does not get around the negotiating table with Unite bosses, the union warns more action. It said KNDL has refused to talk for over four months, and is breaching the National Ways Agreement which governs the terms and conditions of the workforce.

Unite workers voted by 85 per cent in favour of strike action on a turnout of 64 per cent. The union balloted 970 drivers, drayman and warehouse members.

Unite national officer, Rhys McCarthy said: “KNDL’s refusal to take our concerns seriously mean there will be significant disruption to the supply of beer.

“Our members are proud of their jobs and they know that the present system for delivering beer works and customers are happy.

“The changes being pushed through will not work. They will eventually lead to job losses and will cause enormous problems with deliveries to customers. For drinkers up and down the country, it could even affect the quality of cask conditioned beer. We urge KNDL management to return to the negotiating table.”

The company said it continually reviews its warehousing and transport networks in order to ensure that the company provides the most efficient service to its customers and has been willing to take the matter to mediators ACAS.

It added: “The company has been consulting with its employees for a number of years regarding the need to adapt its business model and enhance its service offering to meet the challenges of the declining On Trade drinks market.

“We have engaged in lengthy consultation with Unite regarding the proposed changes to our secondary distribution network.

“In our meeting with Unite on August 29 and in subsequent discussions with the union, the company reiterated its desire to engage in meaningful dialogue including suggesting the involvement of ACAS in an effort to resolve this dispute. We are therefore extremely disappointed that the notice of industrial action has been issued prior to further discussions taking place.

“We are currently working closely with our customers and, in the event of strike action, we have contingency plans in place and will seek to minimise disruption to our nationwide deliveries.

“We remain committed to resolving this dispute prior to any action being taken and will be seeking to meet again with Unite in an effort to achieve this.”

When we mentioned to Unite the company offer to go to ACAS, the union spokesman said they prefer face-to-face talks and called the move a “delaying tactic”.