The prospect of a beer shortage is looming in the UK as drivers and workers at a firm that makes about 40 per cent of deliveries to pubs and clubs are to stage five days of strike action over pay and job cuts.
About 1,000 drivers and dray workers — a person who delivers beer for a brewery — at GXO Logistics plan to stage a first round of strikes between October 31st and November 4th at depots across the UK.
The Unite union said the strike would “impede the ability of pubs and other venues to replenish their cellars prior to the World Cup”. Further action was planned for closer to kick-off in that competition on November 20th if the dispute was not resolved, it said.
The strikes would affect pubs and venues supplied by brewers including Heineken, Stonegate, Admiral Taverns and Shepherd Neame.
GXO Logistics delivers to about 4,500 pubs in London and southeast England and has a network of 22 depots from Inverness to Southampton where rolling strike action will take place. A ban on overtime working will come into force from Monday next, October 24th.
The company said it had plans in place to ensure pubs and venues did not run dry if strikes interrupted its regular schedule of deliveries.
“We are in constant contact with our customers and should a strike go ahead, we have business continuity plans in place to ensure they are adequately stocked and minimise impact on consumers,” a spokesperson for GXO said.
The US-based firm reported $777 million (€790 million) in revenues from its UK operations in the three months to the end of June, its biggest single source of its $2.2 billion global revenues for the quarter. Total adjusted profits reached $176 million in the second quarter.
UK workers rejected a 5 per cent pay offer in a deal that included a reduction in sick pay. “GXO can easily afford to pay and Unite is determined to see that they do,” the union’s general secretary, Sharon Graham, said.
The dispute with management also involves plans to close the GXO depot in Dagenham, Essex, which will result in job cuts and an increase in the workload for drivers at its Croydon, Faversham and Greenford sites.
GXO said the union’s version of the pay deal was “inaccurate and misleading” and that the strike action was putting its “members, the hospitality sector and consumers at risk of unnecessary disruption”.
The company said the proposal on the table represented an average 9.2 per cent pay increase and there was no impact on sick pay.
“The offer is highly competitive and follows an above-inflation annual pay raise of 4 per cent last year,” the spokesperson said. “The increase exceeds the industry average and, in every region, earnings for our drivers are above both the regional and national averages. — Guardian