GK staff consider strike action after ‘insulting’ pay offer

By Emily Hawkins

- Last updated on GMT

Strike on the cards: hundreds of Greene King members will vote on industrial action after a pay dispute
Strike on the cards: hundreds of Greene King members will vote on industrial action after a pay dispute

Related tags Strike action

Greene King staff will vote on whether to take strike action after its union dubbed the company’s approach to pay negotiations “insulting”.

Unite – which represents staff from across the pub company’s brewing and warehouse facilities – will issue ballots by the end of the month.

Union members rejected an offer of a 2% pay rise, which they described as “paltry”.

The union also urged the pub company to clarify whether there was a risk of job losses and pub closures following the news of a takeover deal. 

A £2.7bn deal for Hong Kong firm CK Asset (CKA) to take over the company’s pub portfolio was approved by shareholders yesterday (Thursday 10 October).

Pay dispute

The pub company said its pay offer was fair in the present economic context and that it had provided union members with assurances in the immediate aftermath of the takeover’s announcement.

Staff to be balloted include those at the brewer’s head office in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, as well as at distribution centres in Abingdon, Oxfordshire, and Eastwood, Nottinghamshire.

Around 200 members in company’s brewing and brands department rejected the 2% offer for the year 2019-2020.

The pub company has a 3,000-strong pub portfolio, including brands Chef & Brewer and Farmhouse Inns.

Unite regional officer Mark Jaina said the figure was not enough for staff given the increasing cost of living.

She said: “Our members are fed up with being palmed off with a paltry 2% rise, which has been the norm for the past six or seven years.

“That figure is way below the soaring cost of living and, as a result, our members have seen a serious erosion of their incomes in real terms during that period.

“A new senior management team is playing hardball and Unite won’t tolerate this insulting treatment on pay. We expect to start balloting for industrial action by the end of the month.

“We are also seeking further clarity on future job security now that the takeover has been overwhelmingly approved by Greene King shareholders.”

Rejection of other benefits 

Despite two meetings with GK management since the announcement of a takeover in August, staff still felt clueless about whether pub closures were to be expected, the union said.

The pub company disagreed with claims that they had provided scant information and said it had communicated assurances to concerned staff in the summer.

A Greene King spokesperson said: "We are disappointed Unite has chosen to reject our pay offer as well as other benefits.

“This offer is fair and consistent across the brewing division, especially given the challenging wider economic environment and we have explained this to Unite in a number of meetings.

“We reject Unite’s claim that we have not provided information on the proposed recommended cash offer from CKA.

“We sought a meeting with Unite in August and explained the assurances given as part of the announcement.”

Related topics Greene King

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