Industrial action could hit drinks deliveries before Christmas

By Fred A'Court

- Last updated on GMT

Industrial action: deliveries of Carlsberg and other drinks could be affected in the run up to Christmas
Industrial action: deliveries of Carlsberg and other drinks could be affected in the run up to Christmas

Related tags: Trade union

Christmas deliveries of Carlsberg and other drinks from firms such as Brains, Coors, Greene King, and Mitchells & Butlers could be hit by an industrial dispute brewing at DHL Tradeteam, the Unite union claims.

Drivers employed by the delivery company’s Enfield depot in north London work under conditions that mean many of them have to work to the maximum 15-hour day, or very close to it, Unite said.

The union said that this requirement is part of a new Carlsberg contract, and for workers represents “the straw that has broken the camel’s back”, by creating excessive workloads.

Lorry drivers, dray and warehouse staff affected

The “seriously deteriorated” working conditions affect 70 drivers responsible for up to 30 delivery lorries, and dray and warehouse staff

Unite regional officer Paul Travers said: “Our members are being treated appallingly, following the advent of the Carlsberg contact.”

Additional work has not been taken into account by the management, he said.

15-hour workloads

“When the employees come into work every morning they know they are being sent out with excessive workloads, which will take them up to the legal maximum of 15 hours to complete.

“There are serious health and safety implications here for the drivers who are physically drained by their bosses’ unreasonable demands.

 “We have had talks with senior management at DHL Tradeteam, but they are deaf to our legitimate concerns. Profit margins seem to be their only consideration,” he said.

Industrial ballot for action

Unless an agreement over the contract is reached, the union is threatening an industrial ballot that could result in a strike, or action short of a strike from mid-December.

Travers warned that if industrial action goes ahead, “deliveries in the run-up to the Christmas period will be drastically affected across London and the south-east”, adding “there will be a lot of unhappy thirsty customers at pubs, clubs and restaurants”.

Travers added that DHL has a window of opportunity to hold constructive talks with Unite to reach a fair settlement with realistic expectations of what members can achieve during the working day.

The union has not said whether the dispute could escalate to other depots.

In response to the union's claims, a spokesperson for Tradeteam said: “We are aware of Unite’s concerns which were aired at a face to face meeting last week.

“Further talks are planned and we look forward to working together to resolve the union’s concerns and reach a satisfactory outcome for all parties.”

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