Workers at Kuehne + Nagel Drinks Logistics (KNDL) have voted in favour of strike action in a ballot by union Unite, which concluded last week (28 August).

Unite revealed that 85% voted to strike on a turnout of 64%, having balloted 970 drivers, draymen and warehouse workers.

Industrial action could affect deliveries of brands such as Fosters, Heineken, Kronenbourg, John Smith’s, Strongbow and Britvic soft drinks if it goes ahead.

A spokesman for the Unite said talks with KNDL the following day (29 August) ended without agreement. He was unable to comment on whether a date for strike action had been set.

According to Unite, KNDL wants to restructure its network, introducing three ‘super hubs’ in Livingstone, West Lothian; Wakefield and Thatcham, near Newbury. Beer will then be distributed to KNDL’s 27 depots across the country, excluding its Anglesey and Hereford sites which operate on different contracts, for delivery to pubs, hotels and restaurants.

Unite national officer Rhys McCarthy said: "Our members take pride in their jobs and they know that the present system for delivering beer has worked well for more than a century.

"The changes being pushed through will not work. They will eventually lead to job losses and will cause enormous problems in delivering to customers. For drinkers up and down the country it could even affect the quality of the beer.”

KNDL responds

In response, a KNDL spokeswoman said: "KN Drinks Logistics has been consulting with its employees for a number of years regarding the need to adapt its business model and enhance its service offering to meet the challenges of the declining On Trade drinks market.

"As part of this ongoing process proposed changes to its distribution network and methods of operation were announced earlier this year.  Extensive consultation with all affected employee groups, including those represented by Unite the Union, has been undertaken in line with established procedures and agreements to explain the rationale for these changes and the potential impact on employees.

"The company is disappointed that despite this level of engagement, and its successful track record of positive dialogue with Unite, the Union has taken the decision to conduct an industrial action ballot."