Some 1,000 employees of XPO Logistics Drinks are being balloted for industrial action by Unite the union over a “paltry” pay offer.
The workers are based at 26 sites across the country and are responsible for around 40% of UK beer deliveries, leading the union to warn of beer shortages this summers.
Workers said the 1.4% pay rise offered was a bitter pill to swallow after employees missed out on between £8,000 and £10,000 thanks to furlough and a lack of overtime, as well as no pay increase in 2020.
Union bosses warned of shortages of products including Heineken that could hit pubs, in addition to the current ‘pingdemic’ crisis causing staffing difficulties across the sector.
The union hoped to see a pay offer in line with the current RPI inflation rate of 3.9%.
Unite national officer for the drinks industry Joe Clarke said members had “suffered great financial hardship” during the pandemic and this had been met with “paltry” pay offer.
Clarke added beer drivers and warehouse staff were “working flat out currently to meet the high demand for beer volumes in our pubs as society reopens".
“We call upon the company to engage in meaningful negotiations regarding a decent pay increase for our members."
What’s more, the union has described XPO’s decision to slash cleaning processes for drivers as “the height of irresponsibility” given high Covid infection rates.
Clarke said: “Separately, the company has ceased all Covid-secure cleaning processes for our drivers which is ridiculous as infection rates soar. This move is aimed at cutting times for driver deliveries in an unsafe way. It is an act of corporate irresponsibility.”
An XPO spokesperson said: "We favour dialogue in all our negotiations. We remain open for further conversations to seek agreement in a hospitality sector that is just starting to come out of the lockdown's impact."