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Industrial action threatens supply of beer to 30,000 premises across UK

Delivery workers are unhappy about changes to employment terms and conditions and a restructuring exercise to build three giant distribution hubs

The supply of beer and soft drinks to nearly 30,000 premises across the UK could be at risk after delivery workers voted in favour of strikes.

The Unite union was scheduled to hold talks today in a bid to avoid major disruption, but warned that if they failed it would prepare to name dates for industrial action.

Staff employed by KNDL (Kuehne and Nagel Drinks Logistics) are unhappy about proposals for the creation of three super distribution hubs to do much of the work currently carried out at 29 more disparate sites.

And the proposed strikes could affect thousands of pubs and premises, including those run by Enterprise Inns, Trust Inns and Wetherspoons, as well as airports, Premier League football clubs and cinemas.

The union claims bosses were looking to push through changes to terms and conditions which will lead to significant job losses.

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.”

The depots directly 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.