Unite threatens ‘beer drought’ after pay dispute

By James Ridler contact

- Last updated on GMT

Unite members at XPO Logistics Drinks are to be balloted for strike action
Unite members at XPO Logistics Drinks are to be balloted for strike action

Related tags: Supply chain, Drinks

Workers union Unite has threated a ‘beer drought’ across the UK, after announcing plans to ballot its members employed by XPO Logistics Drinks for industrial action over a ‘paltry’ pay offer.

More than 1,000 workers across XPO’s supply chain will be asked to vote this week (Wednesday 28 July) for strike action and industrial action short of a strike over the company’s offer of 1.4% for 2021, reportedly below the current RPI inflation rate of 3.9%.

The union claimed that its members represented 40% of XPO’s delivery workforce, resulting in major disruptions for brands such as Heineken should a strike go ahead.

Unite said it had offered a ‘manageable’ inflation increase which the company then rejected. This resulted in the workforce voting overwhelmingly in a consultative ballot in favour of a full-scale industrial action ballot.

Separate issue

Separately from the pay issue, Unite lodged a complaint against XPO bosses that claimed all Covid-secure cleaning processes for the drivers had been cut, which the union described as ​the height of irresponsibility as Covid cases were rocketing alarmingly’.

Unite national officer for the drinks industry Joe Clarke said: “Our members have suffered great financial hardship during the pandemic with some of them losing up to £10,000 through being furloughed and picking up no overtime.

“The company has responded by offering a paltry 1.4 per cent which is well below the current RPI inflation rate of 3.9 per cent. Meanwhile, the drivers, their ‘mates’ and warehouse staff are working flat out currently to meet the high demand for beer volumes in our pubs as society reopens.”

Disruption and ‘pingdemic’

Disruption caused by a potential strike would be on top of the ‘​pingdemic’ that is already hitting the sector.

“We call upon the company to engage in meaningful negotiations regarding a decent pay increase for our members,” ​Clarke added.

“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.”

Meanwhile, Jacobs Douwe Egberts's (JDE's) coffee factory workers in Banbury, Oxfordshire will be balloted on a new pay and employment conditions’ package​ that removes controversial ‘fire and rehire’ proposals, according to trade union Unite.

Related topics: Supply Chain, People & Skills, Drinks

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