Beer delivery strikes ‘won’t impact pubs’ at Christmas

By Emily Hawkins contact

- Last updated on GMT

Strike programme: workers at a drinks delivery company have voted to strike this winter
Strike programme: workers at a drinks delivery company have voted to strike this winter

Related tags: Strike action

Workers at a drinks delivery company – with customers including Carlsberg, Coors, Greene King and Mitchells & Butlers – have agreed to strike in the run-up to Christmas.

Logistics company Tradeteam said there would be no impact on deliveries to customers in the event of strike action at its Enfield depot in north London. 

However, union Unite said a “rolling programme of strike dates” yet to be announced by drivers, draymen and warehouse staff would hit Tradeteam customers in the lead-up to Christmas.

Around 100 workers voted for action over what Unite described as a lack of managerial good faith over pay discussions. 

Employees agreed to strike after an agreement for a pay increase fell through, with 65% of workers at the Millmarsh Lane site voting for action. 

Brewing companies Molson Coors and Carlsberg said that pubs’ stocks would not be hit by any action and they remained hopeful strikes could be avoided.

Continued supply 

A spokesperson for Molson Coors said: “We’re disappointed with the ballot result but, in the event a strike goes ahead, we’ll be working closely with Tradeteam to ensure continuity of supply for our customers. 

“We know that talks between Tradeteam and Unite continue and remain hopeful that industrial action may yet be avoided.”

A Carlsberg spokesperson said they did not think any customers would be affected in the coming months.

They said: “Tradeteam has reassured us that discussions with the union remain ongoing and that there will be no impact on deliveries to our customers while this matter is ongoing and a satisfactory outcome is sought.”

A Greene King spokesperson added: “We are aware the Unite union has claimed some of our beer deliveries would be affected if industrial action took place at this depot.

"We are, of course, monitoring the situation but, at this stage, believe if it did go ahead, we would have adequate contingency plans in place for the very small proportion of our pubs that would otherwise have been impacted.”

Weight concerns

Workers’ grievances included crews being asked to drive routes that broke allowed weight limits and unfair action for incidents of alleged lateness.

Drivers at depots in the north and the Midlands said they had been asked to deliver unmanageable loads earlier this year in a similar strike ballot.

The company retracted an offer that included a two-year pay rise of 2.75% each year and the introduction of a bonus scheme. 

Unite regional officer Paul Travers spoke of a “culture of bad faith by management” following a breakdown of talks with the conciliation service Acas on Monday 28 October.

Ten days after a deal was made in writing, Tradeteam’s chief operating officer contacted Unite and called it “one sided”, Travers said.

He continued: “We then entered a new pay claim that the company responded to by making a worse offer than the original one.

“The crux to this dispute is about the unilateral change to the original pay deal, along with several outstanding grievances, such as disciplinary action against our members for alleged poor timekeeping, despite unrealistic delivery rotas.”

Sour taste

He added: “Our members are angry at what they see as one rule for them and one for management. The last straw was the abrupt U-turn on pay that has left a very sour taste in the mouth.”

There was a “window of genuine opportunity” for constructive talks between Tradeteam and Unite to avoid action, Travers said.

“However, there is a window of genuine opportunity before strike action commences for the management to sit down for constructive talks with Unite to reach a resolution to the myriad of outstanding grievances.” 

A spokesperson for DHL Supply Chain said it was disappointed with the announcement for strike action at the Tradeteam site.

They added: “Further talks are scheduled but contingency plans are in place and every effort will be made to minimise disruption to customer deliveries should the strike action go ahead.

"No impact is foreseen on deliveries to other areas of the country."

Related topics: Beer

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