UK could face beer shortage as delivery drivers threaten strike

Unite union: a ‘beer drought’ could result if members vote for industrial action

Celine Wadhera
Saturday 24 July 2021 10:23
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<p>Drivers responsible for 40 per cent of UK beer deliveries could strike amid a pay dispute</p>

Drivers responsible for 40 per cent of UK beer deliveries could strike amid a pay dispute

The UK could face beer shortages as delivery drivers are threatening to strike amid a pay dispute.

Delivery drivers at XPO Logistics Drinks, which handles around 40 per cent of beer deliveries across the UK, were offered a 1.4 per cent pay raise, which they say is not enough.

The drivers say that as they failed to receive a pay rise last year, due to the pandemic, with some losing up to £10,000 each due to furlough and a lack of overtime, a larger pay increase is necessary.

Unite the Union called the proposed per cent pay rise “paltry,” noting that it was well below the current inflation rate of 3.9 per cent.

The union said that it had previously “offered a manageable inflation increase” which the company rejected, resulting in the workforce voting in favour of the full-scale industrial action ballot.

Joe Clarke, Unite national officer for the drinks industry, 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.

“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.”

“However, a beer drought could result if our members vote for industrial action because they make 40 per cent of the beer deliveries in the country. This disruption would be on top of the ‘pingdemic’ that is already hitting the sector.”

Mr Clarke continued to call upon XPO Logistics Drinks to engage meaningfully around a “decent pay increase” for Unite members.

Unite will be balloting around 1,000 XPO Logistics Drinks drivers, associates, and warehouse staff for strike action and industrial action over the offer. The ballot opens on 28 July and will close on 9 August.

Separate from the pay issue, a complaint was lodged by Unite around the cutting of all Covid-secure cleaning processes for the drivers. The union said this move was the “height of irresponsibility,” with skyrocketing Covid cases, and Mr Clarke said it was “ridiculous”.

An XPO spokesperson told the Morning Advertiser: “We favour dialogue in all our negotiations. We remain open for further conversations to seek agreement in a hospitality sector that is just starting to come out of the lockdown’s impact”.

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