Beer deliveries at risk, St Albans’ pubs warned


beer - Credit: Archant

PUBS in St Albans and Harpenden have been warned that their beer deliveries will be hit if union talks with an international logistics firm today (Thursday) fail to avert a threatened strike.

Employees at Kuehne + Nagel Drinks Logistics (KNDL) have voted in favour of strike action, which could disrupt supplies of the nation’s favourite beers and soft drinks, following a dispute over changes to working conditions.

A source who did not want to be named warned the Herts Advertiser that should the strike go ahead, about 40 pubs throughout this district would be hit, including 13 in Harpenden.

Pubs and premises run by Enterprise Inns, Trust Inns, Wetherspoon and Wells and Young’s would be affected.

KNDL also supplies sports clubs, including Premiership football clubs, recreational centres and the wider hospitality industry.

Rhys McCarthy, national officer for Unite, Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union, said that should strike action be taken, deliveries of Foster’s, Heineken, Kronenbourg, John Smith’s, Strongbow and Britvic soft drinks to almost 30,000 drinking establishments across the UK would be severely disrupted.

He said workers believed proposed changes would lead to significant job losses and had, by yesterday’s close of a ballot, voted by 85 per cent in favour of strike action.

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Unite balloted 970 drivers, drayman and warehouse members.

Depots affected include Greenford and Welwyn Garden City, which serve pubs in St Albans, Harpenden and surrounding areas.

Rhys explained that KNDL wants to restructure and introduce three “super hubs” from which beer, cider, lager and soft drinks will be distributed to depots, including the ones that supply this district.

He said potential downsides included supplies being delayed by motorway accidents, and the beer becoming unsettled by longer journeys.

Rhys said creation of the “hubs” removed the flexibility and speed of response to local demands.

He said today’s talks were crucial, and if the union was unhappy with the company’s response, it would name dates for strike action.

A spokeswoman for KNDL said while Unite representatives had told the firm the ballot vote had been in favour of strike action, “at this stage there is no planned action”.

She added: “We are committed to continuing dialogue with Unite in order to reach a resolution before any action is taken.”