During a meeting yesterday attended by 300 workers at Burton town hall there was a unanimous vote for strike action.
The Carling brewer is currently consulting on the possible loss of up to 26 jobs at its Burton brewery, along with changes to employment conditions that could potentially lead to pay cuts. The meeting voted unanimously for Unite to proceed with a ballot for strike action.
Unite said that the company – makers of Carling lager – had been campaigning for a reduction in beer duty which had now been heard by the chancellor George Osborne, who in the budget, scrapped the planned 3p rise in beer duty and reduced the duty by 1p.
Unite regional officer Rick Coyle said: “Molson Coors had made great play for the need to reduce beer duty to help its profitability, now that has happened, management should reconsider its punitive plans to cut the pay and conditions of staff.
“At last night’s meeting, members were adamant that they would not contemplate this drastic cut to their pay and terms and conditions; especially at a time when household bills are going through the roof.
“Members voted unanimously for Unite to prepare for a strike ballot, so we are ready for industrial action if there is not a satisfactory outcome. However, Unite will work hard to achieve a fair and equitable solution to this dispute”
The Burton plant produces Carling, Grolsh, Coors Lite and Cobra lagers, as well as beers including Worthington, White Shield and Stones.
A Molson Coors spokesman said: “We have had productive meetings with Unite representatives over recent days and started the process of consulting on proposals for change. These discussions focus on building a sustainable future for the Burton brewery and Shobnall Maltings. So far, the discussions have been useful and show real commitment from both sides to reach a solution.
"Today’s announcement doesn’t change that, and we are confident that we can continue to work well with the union, its representatives and our employees.”
“The duty cut is a level break for all brewers – it’s an industry benefit, not a benefit to an individual company. Whilst very welcome, it doesn’t have an impact on our competitiveness compared to other brewers.”