Draymen's dispute threatens beer supply to thousands of pubs and clubs

Unite union says national agreement was being changed, threatening job losses

Talks aimed at averting the threat of disruption to deliveries of beers, lagers and soft drinks to pubs, clubs and thousands of other sites will be held today.

The Unite union warned that if a dispute over working conditions and jobs involving drivers and other staff employed by KNDL (Kuehne and Nagel Drinks Logistics) is not resolved, it will prepare to name dates for industrial action.

The union warned of disruption to supplies to pubs and premises run by Enterprise Inns, Trust Inns and Wetherspoons as well as airports, courts, sports clubs - including premiership football clubs - recreational centres, theatres and cinemas, health clubs, military camps, working men's clubs and the hospitality industry.

The union claimed a national agreement on terms and conditions was being changed, threatening job losses.

The depots affected include 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); and Welwyn Garden City.

Union members voted by 85 per cent in favour of strike action on a turnout of 64 per cent. The union balloted 970 drivers, drayman and warehouse workers.

Unite national officer, Rhys McCarthy said: "Our members take pride in their jobs and they know that the present system for delivering beer has worked well for more than a century. It provides high levels of customer satisfaction, is responsive and flexible and ensures that the beer is not unsettled by long journeys.

"The changes being pushed through will not work. They will eventually lead to job losses and will cause enormous problems in delivering to customers. For drinkers up and down the country, it could even affect the quality of the beer.

"We have tried to engage with the company but it has repeatedly refused to resolve this dispute. The company now has a final chance otherwise the union will be forced to name dates for action which could seriously disrupt the supplies of the nation's favourite beer and soft drinks."