Greene King brewing division workers vote in favour of strike action
PUBLISHED: 17:49 13 January 2020
Workers at a Bury St Edmunds-based pubs and brewery giant are preparing for strike action in a row over pay.
Unite members at Greene King's brewing division voted by 65.8% in favour of striking over a 2% pay offer which the union has branded "paltry".
The 160-plus Unite members balloted - which include draymen, brewery production staff and warehouse workers - are part of an 800-strong brewing division workforce.
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Bury St Edmunds-based company - which was bought by Hong Kong-based property giant CK Asset Holdings Ltd last year in a mega £2.7bn takeover deal - said it was "disappointed" that its pay offer was rejected but claimed the effect of any strike action would have "little impact".
The union represents fewer than 170 people across just three out of its distribution depots - in Bury St Edmunds, Eastwood and Abingdon - out of a total of 15 depots, it said.
A Greene King spokesman said its pay offer was "fair and consistent" across the brewing division in a challenging wider economic environment.
"We remain disappointed that Unite has encouraged its members to reject our offer of a 2% pay rise for its members, as well as a number of other benefits, and pursue this course of action," he said.
"We would like to reassure all our customers that only three out of 15 delivery depots would potentially be impacted by any strike action - Bury St Edmunds, Eastwood and Abingdon - and Unite members account for fewer than 170 people out of 800 in our brewery workforce.
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"This means we will still have a majority of non-Unite members working and we have drawn up full contingency plans to ensure there is minimal disruption to our customers."
Unite now has until mid-July to carry out any strike action and must give us two weeks' notice before doing so.
"The company employs a total of 38,000 staff across our pubs, breweries and head offices, there are just under 170 Unite members in our brewing division who could potentially strike and therefore we expect any impact to be minimal. We have approximately 800 people employed in our brewing division."
Unite regional officer Mark Jaina said: "Despite statements from Greene King's managing director Matt Starbuck that the brewery was ready to find a way to resolve this dispute, Unite has heard nothing since this ballot was announced.
"We hope that now Greene King's bosses know our members are serious about receiving a reasonable pay rise, they will be ready to make a sensible offer before business is disrupted.
"The leadership of CK Asset Holdings can't be happy with the fact that there is the possibility of loyal Greene King beer drinkers making do with short measures because of strikes.
"Our members do not want to take industrial action, but they have been left with no choice because of the actions of Greene King's management.
"The fact is that another 2% pay rise will not cut it when the cost of living is soaring and this dispute will not be settled until workers receive a reasonable increase to their wages."