Greene King quashes ‘beer drought’ strike claims

By Emily Hawkins contact

- Last updated on GMT

Disruption claims: brewer Greene King has said impact of strike action on pubs will be minimal (image: Sludge G, Flickr)
Disruption claims: brewer Greene King has said impact of strike action on pubs will be minimal (image: Sludge G, Flickr)

Related tags: Strike action, Beer

One of the country’s largest brewers has sought to dispel claims that UK pubgoers will face a beer shortage when its warehouse workers take strike action next month.

Greene King workers are set to strike on 12 and 13 March as a result of a pay dispute, with their union stating this would cause a “beer drought”.

However, the brewing giant said it was confident disruption would be minimal because only three out of 15 depots across the country would be affected.

Some 160 delivery drivers, draymen, brewery production staff and warehouse workers will strike at its Bury St Edmunds headquarters and distribution centres at Abingdon, Oxfordshire; and Eastwood, Nottinghamshire.

The Unite union has planned a series of strikes into the summer months, as reported by The Morning Advertiser.

Contingency plans

A Greene King spokesperson said: "We have full contingency plans in place to minimise disruption and we will be working closely with our customers to communicate and implement these over the coming two weeks. 

“Union members account for fewer than 170 people out of 800 in our brewery workforce, which means we will still have a majority of non-union members working. 

“We would like to thank them and our customers for their loyalty and support during this period.”

For some workers, their industrial action may stretch to 14 March.

There will be a lunchtime protest at the Westgate brewery in Bury St Edmunds on Friday 6 March.

Severe disruption 

Unite regional officer Mark Jaina said: “These pay negotiations have dragged on for months with a hard-line management being blinkered as to the ever-rising cost of living that our members have endured for several years.

“This strike could lead to the severe disruption in supplies to pubs, clubs and restaurants, and some drinkers could face a beer drought as a result.”

A £2.7bn deal for Greene King to be taken over by Hong Kong company CK Bidco ​– a newly incorporated subsidiary of Hong Kong-based property developer CK Asset Holdings – was completed last year. 

Jaina added: “The relatively new owners of Greene King – CK Asset Holdings – can’t be happy at the reputational damage that strike action will cause to customers so soon after taking control of one of the UK’s premier hospitality and beer brands.”

The union said there was a window of opportunity before the first strikes next month for further negotiations to resolve the pay dispute.

Greene King said it remained disappointed that the union encouraged its members to reject its pay offer.

A spokesperson said: “Our pay rise offer is fair and consistent across the brewing division, especially given the challenging wider economic environment.”

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