Delivery to pubs in St Albans hit by strike
PUBLISHED: 09:05 11 September 2013 | UPDATED: 09:05 11 September 2013
ALMOST 30,000 drinking establishments, including about 40 pubs throughout St Albans district, will suffer "significant disruption" today as beer deliveries are stopped by strike action.
Union talks with an international logistics firm have failed to avert the 24-hour strike, which starts today (Wednesday) from 10am.
The action follows a break down in talks between Kuehne + Nagel Drinks Logistics (KNDL) and Unite.
Employees recently voted in favour of the action, which will disrupt supplies of the nation’s favourite beers and soft drinks, following a dispute over changes to working conditions.
A local 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 will 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 deliveries of Foster’s, Heineken, Kronenbourg, John Smith’s, Strongbow and Britvic soft drinks to almost 30,000 drinking establishments across the UK will be severely disrupted.
He said workers believed proposed changes would lead to significant job losses.
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.
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.
A spokeswoman for KNDL said management had tried to resolve the dispute about planned changes to the firm’s national drinks distribution network.
She added: “It is widely known that volumes of drinks being consumed in licensed premises across the UK have steadily declined in recent years”.
The spokeswoman said that despite recent talks, Unite was not prepared to accept proposals about the distribution network “and also refused to accept the company’s offer to involve Acas [conciliation and arbitration service] in further discussions.
“No further meetings are scheduled between KN Drinks Logistics and Unite”.