NHS: Malcolm Harrison issues warning of strike action
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Christmas strikes sparked by postal and transport workers have now spread to other industries, with food and drink workers following their lead. Brewery and fast food staff serving some of the UK’s most popular chains plan to withdraw their labour next month. Workers represented by the Unite and GMB unions will build a wave of industrial action, with nearly 600 employees participating.
Unite announced today that drinkers face a “Christmas beer drought” when 188 of its members employed by breweries voted for strikes.
The workers, based at Bury St Edmunds, Eastwood in Nottinghamshire and Abingdon in Oxfordshire, brew and distribute beverages for the Greene King pub chain.
They will initially take five days worth of strike action from Monday, December 5.
The GMB union said its nearly 400 delivery staff working at fast food chains had also voted for strikes.
The workers, who work with Best Food Logistics and serve some of the UK’s most popular fast food chains, including Pizza Hut, Wagamama, Burger King and KFC,
A comfortable majority – 76 percent – voted in favour of the action, which does not yet have a precise timetable.
In a statement, Nadine Houghton, the GMB National Officer, said Bestfood’s owners are making “serious money”.
She added: “Shareholders are trousering large dividends, while the people who do the graft are struggling to make ends meet.”
Ms Houghton said the striking workers want a pay deal that “protects them from this crushing cost of living crisis”.
She warned that, without a solution, the UK’s high streets would “face shortages over Christmas”.
Sharon Graham, the Unite general secretary, said Greene King’s owners are “incredibly wealthy” and accused them of failing to offer their staff “a decent pay rise”.
She pledged that Unite would not “idly stand by while a wealthy company tries to further boost its profits by subjecting its workers to substantial real terms pay cuts”.
Ms Graham added: “Unite members at Greene King will receive the union’s complete and total support throughout their dispute.”
A Greene King spokesman said the company was “disappointed” that Unite had “encouraged” workers to reject its three percent pay rise and a one-off £650 payment offer.
They added that it was “fair and consistent across the business”, and that company bosses had developed contingencies for the eventuality.
The spokesman said it would “communicate and implement” them in the coming days.
Best Food Logistics committed to a “constructive dialogue” with its staff and union representatives.
A spokesman said it had provided workers with a “competitive and comprehensive reward package”.
The company had offered workers a six percent pay rise, which GMB said amounted to a real-terms pay cut.
They added that the firm would work to ensure customers can “continue to get the products they need”.
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