Industrial action against pubcos could kick off as early as April, says the GMB, who will also be "quite happy" to go to court to prove that tied tenants have legal immunity to take part.
At last night's GMB roadshow in Guildford, Surrey, only eight licensees turned up. Paul Maloney, the GMB's national officer in charge of the dispute, said this was the worst attendance so far.
To date four meetings have been held — in Leeds, Swansea, Sheffield, which attracted the largest attendance so far with 52 licensees, and Guildford. Another roadshow is scheduled for Birmingham tonight, and the organisers expect a large turnout.
Responding to concerns from self-employed licensees over whether they would have legal immunity if they take industrial action against pubcos, Maloney said pubcos could "take the GMB to court, we will be quite happy prove ourselves there".
"If publicans have the mettle, then we have got the will to bring this to a speedy resolution," he added.
"We call on pubcos to act responsibly, and to reduce wet and dry rents for tenants. We also urge them to resolve any outstanding grievances with tenants, and to take Brulines out."
But he added that if this does not happen, and pubcos, "want someone to do battle with, and publicans want to stand up to them, then game on."
If tied tenants agree on industrial action in a GMB ballot to be held by the end of March, the first step would be to switch Brulines off in participating pubs in April.
The next step would be for tenants to stop buying beer from the pubcos, which, according to Maloney, would "save 60-80p per pint — we would ask that you pass half of this on to the consumer".
One pubco (Pubco: GMB is threatening pub livelihoods), which wished to remain anonymous, recently warned tenants against industrial action. "It is extremely sad that this union is trying to persuade licensees to deliberately harm their own businesses and livelihoods in this way," it said.