Should industrial action take place, it could hit deliveries of such brand names as Britvic soft drinks, Heineken, Kronenbourg and John Smith’s. It’s understood that Shepherd Neame, which last month reached a 10-year logistics agreement with KNDL, would not be affected.
Unite, the country’s largest union, started balloting its 970 driver, drayman and warehouse members at 27 sites in England, Scotland and Wales today for strike action and industrial action short of a strike. The ballot closes on Wednesday 28 August.
The issue at the centre of the dispute is the way the company has ridden roughshod over the National Ways Agreement which governs the terms and conditions of the workforce.
Unite national officer for the food and drinks sector Rhys McCarthy said: “In recent months the management at KNDL has rode roughshod over the national agreement and has unilaterally started imposing changes to working conditions for our members without meaningful consultation.
“Unite’s repeated attempts to rectify these breaches have been met with intransigence by the management and, as a last resort, our members are being balloted for industrial action. We call on the management to enter into constructive talks with Unite immediately to restore good industrial relations by adhering to the national agreement that they signed up to.”
The company supplies pubs and the hospitality industry; and Unite warns any industrial action would cause severe disruption to deliveries.
The sites being balloted are at: Aberdeen; Bathgate (West Lothian); Birmingham; Bristol; Chandlers Ford (Hampshire); Carlisle; Croydon; Dagenham; Devizes (Wiltshire); Dundee; Faversham (Kent); Greenford (Middlesex) and Inverness.
Liverpool; Manchester; Newark (Nottinghamshire); Northampton; Norwich; Plymouth; Preston; Reading; Stockton-on-Tees (Cleveland); Swansea; Wakefield; Warrington; Washington (Tyne and Wear); and Welwyn Garden City.
In a statement KNDL said: "The company is fully committed to ongoing dialogue with Unite and plans to meet with union representatives 29 August 29 to discuss the situation further."