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Greene King workers set to strike over pay

PUBLISHED: 16:22 26 February 2020 | UPDATED: 17:23 26 February 2020

Distribution centre workers at Greene King are set to go out on strike Picture: Yui Mok/Adam Smyth/Andrew Matthews/ PA Images.

Distribution centre workers at Greene King are set to go out on strike Picture: Yui Mok/Adam Smyth/Andrew Matthews/ PA Images.

Yui Mok/Adam Smyth/Andrew Matthews/ PA Images.

Workers at pubs and brewery giant Greene King distribution centres are set to strike over pay.

Last year Greene King was bought up by a Hong Kong property giant which is part of billionaire Li Ka-shing's business empire  Picture: PA IMAGESLast year Greene King was bought up by a Hong Kong property giant which is part of billionaire Li Ka-shing's business empire Picture: PA IMAGES

The action involves around 160 delivery drivers, draymen, brewery production staff and warehouse workers including from the firm's headquarters in Bury St Edmunds who are set to walk out on March 12 and 13.

Union officials at Unite have blamed a "hardline" management approach for the move.

But Greene King said it was "disappointed" and argued its pay offer was "fair and consistent". Contingency plans were in place to minimise disruption, it added.

Workers at distribution centres at Abingdon, Oxfordshire and Eastwood, Nottinghamshire will also be involved, said Unite.

MORE - Greene King brewing division workers vote in favour of strike action

The rolling action can involve 12 other dates for strikes, which have to be announced 14 days before to comply with the law.

The workforce, employed by the brewing and brands department, voted overwhelmingly for strike action in January.

They claim years of 2% pay rises are failing to reflect the soaring cost of living.

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There will also be a lunchtime protest at the Westgate brewery, Bury St Edmunds, on Friday, March 6.

The strike follows the £4.6bn takeover of the company, which was bought up by CK Asset Holdings in August last year.

Unite regional officer Mark Jaina said: "These pay negotiations have dragged on for months with a hardline management being blinkered as to the ever-rising cost of living that our members have endured for several years.

"We are planning a rolling schedule of strikes into the summer which should send a strong message to the bosses that our members are serious about rectifying this pay injustice. The first two-day strike action is March 12 - 13.

"This strike could lead to the severe disruption in supplies to pubs, clubs and restaurants and some drinkers could face a beer drought as a result.

"The relatively new owners of Greene King - CK Asset Holdings - can't be happy at the reputational damage that strike action will cause to customers so soon after taking control of one of the UK's premier hospitality and beer brands.

"However, there is a window of opportunity before the first strikes next month and we urge the management to take this opportunity for them to get around the table and negotiate in a constructive fashion to resolve this dispute."

But a Greene King spokesman said: "We remain disappointed that the union has encouraged its members to reject our pay offer for its members, as well as a number of other benefits, and pursue this course of action. Our pay rise offer is fair and consistent across the brewing division, especially given the challenging wider economic environment.

"This affects just three out of 15 depots across the country. We have full contingency plans in place to minimise disruption and we will be working closely with our customers to communicate and implement these over the coming two weeks. Union members account for fewer than 170 people out of 800 in our brewery workforce, which means we will still have a majority of non-union members working. We would like to thank them and our customers for their loyalty and support during this period."

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