Beer supplies to 30,000 outlets in strike threat

By Mike Stones

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Trade union, Strike action

On the road to industrial action at Kuehne + Nagel Drinks Logistics
On the road to industrial action at Kuehne + Nagel Drinks Logistics
Supplies of beer, lager and soft drinks to 30,000 pubs, hotels and other outlets throughout the UK are under threat, the union Unite, has warned distribution firm Kuehne + Nagel Drinks Logistics (KNDL), as its members prepare for a 24-hour strike from 10am on Wednesday September 11.

Unite predicted “severe disruption”​ to deliveries of Fosters, Heineken, Kronenbourg, John Smiths, Strongbow and Britvic soft drinks.

Outlets affected by the strike include: pubs, hotels and restaurants managed by Enterprise Inns, Trust Inns, Wetherspoons, and Wells and Youngs brewery.

But supplies to other sites – including: airports, courts, sports clubs, such as Premiership football clubs, recreational centres, theatres and cinemas, health clubs, military camps and working men’s clubs –are also likely to be affected.

Premiership football clubs

Unite has also announced a continuous ban on overtime and a work-to-rule and threated to step up its industrial action, if KNDL failed to work with the union to resolve the row.

The dispute focused on the firm’s alleged breach​ of the National Ways Agreement, which covers workers’ terms and conditions.

Changes proposed by KNDL will lead to significant jobs losses, claimed the union. It added that attempts to resolve the dispute over the past four months had been met with “intransigence by the management”.

During a ballot of 970 drivers, drayman and warehouse members, workers voted by 85% in favour of strike action on a turnout of 64%. See below for a list of depots affected by the strike.

KNDL planned to introduce three super hubs at Livingstone, West Lothian, Thatcham, near Newbury, and Wakefield for distribution to the wider network, claimed Unite.

But, it warned: supplies could be delayed by accidents/disruptions on the motorways, cask conditioned beer could be unsettled by long journeys, it was environmentally unfriendly in requiring more HGV journeys, increased the risk of delayed deliveries and removed flexibility.

'Job losses'

Rhys McCarthy, Unite national officer, said: “The changes being pushed through will not work. They will eventually lead to job losses and will cause enormous problems with deliveries to customers. For drinkers up and down the country, it could even affect the quality of cask conditioned beer. We urge KNDL management to return to the negotiating table.”

He added: “We have tried to negotiate with the company but it has stubbornly refused to solve this dispute.”

A spokeswoman for KNDL said the firm had been consulting with its employees for a number of years over the need to adapt its business model and improve service to meet the challenges of the falling on trade drinks market. 

The company had repeated its desire resolve the dispute a meeting with Unite on August 29 and had suggested referral to the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service, it said.

“We are therefore extremely disappointed that the notice of industrial action has been issued prior to further discussions taking place.”

KNDL was working closely with its customers and, in the event of a strike, had contingency plans in place to minimise disruption to nationwide deliveries, she added.

The group employs more than 62,500 staff at over 1,000 locations in over 100 countries. Businesses include IT-based logistics interests spanning: sea freight, air freight, contract logistics and overland transport.


Depots affected by the strike

  • Aberdeen
  • Bathgate, West Lothian
  • Birmingham
  • Bristol
  • Chandlers Ford, Hampshire
  • Carlisle
  • Croydon
  • Dagenham
  • Devizes, Wiltshire
  • Dundee
  • Faversham, Kent
  • Greenford, Middlesex
  • Inverness;
  • Liverpool
  • Manchester
  • Newark, Nottinghamshire
  • Northampton
  • Norwich
  • Plymouth
  • Preston
  • Reading
  • Stockton-on-Tees, Cleveland
  • Swansea
  • Wakefield
  • Warrington
  • Washington, Tyne and Wear
  • Welwyn Garden City

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