Kent pubs, clubs and restaurants could be hit by Christmas booze shortage as drinks distribution workers threaten strike action

PUBLISHED: 11:15 24 October 2017 | UPDATED: 14:51 24 October 2017

Kent pubs and restaurants could be short on beer this Christmas if delivery drivers strike

Kent pubs and restaurants could be short on beer this Christmas if delivery drivers strike

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The Unite union claims working conditions have deteriorated since DHL Tradeteam took over the contract for the delivery of Carlsberg's products earlier this month

Pubs, clubs and restaurants across Kent could be hit by a drastic booze shortage this Christmas as drinks distribution workers threaten to go on strike.

Drivers employed by DHL Tradeteam in Enfield, north London, are being balloted for potential industrial action by the Unite union, over working conditions described as “appalling”.

The kernel of the dispute is that DHL took over the contract for the delivery of Carlsberg’s products earlier this month and since then, the union claims, conditions for the 70 drivers, and dray and warehouse staff have seriously deteriorated.

Unite said the new Carlsberg contract is “the straw that has broken the camel’s back” and has led to excessive workloads.

The alleged lack of organisation at the depot has meant that many workers are working the maximum 15 hour day or very close to it, according to the union, and this has impacted on other delivery contracts at Enfield.

The brands that will be affected if the 30 delivery lorries don’t leave the depot will not only be Carlsberg, but drinks from such firms as Brains, Coors, Greene King, and Mitchell and Butler.

Unite regional officer Paul Travers said: “Our members are being treated appallingly, following the advent of the Carlsberg contact.

“This additional work, which has not been taken into account by the management, is the straw that has broken the camel’s back.

“When the workers come into work every morning they know they are being sent out with excessive workloads, which will take them up to the legal maximum of 15 hours to complete.

“There are serious health and safety implications here for the drivers who are physically drained by the bosses’ unreasonable demands.

“We have had talks with senior management at DHL Tradeteam, but they are deaf to our legitimate concerns. Profit margins seem to be their only consideration.

“We are putting down a strong marker that deliveries in the run-up to the Christmas period will be drastically affected across the south east – there will be a lot of unhappy thirsty customers at pubs, clubs and restaurants.

“But the health and safety of our members is our paramount concern. We have seen already one lorry involved in an accident, something we have warned would happen many times over recent weeks; thankfully, no one was hurt.

“Before the industrial action ballot process starts, the management has a window of opportunity to sit down and hold constructive talks with Unite to reach a fair settlement with realistic expectations of what our members can achieve during the working day.”

A spokesperson for Tradeteam said: “We are aware of Unite’s concerns which were aired at a face to face meeting last week.

“Further talks are planned and we look forward to working together to resolve the union’s concerns and reach a satisfactory outcome for all parties.”

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