Beer Strike Suspended Following “Improved Pay Offer”

Nationwide strikes by 1,000 GXO drayman who deliver top beer brands have been suspended following an improved pay offer from the company, Unite union, said.

The improved offer of 4 per cent by GXO Logistics Drinks Ltd (previously XPO Logistics Drinks Ltd) will now be voted on by the drayman, who are based at 26 sites around the country, and the unionis recommending that the draymen, responsible for about 40 per cent of the beer deliveries to pubs and other hospitality outlets across the UK, accept the offer.

Strikes scheduled for Tuesday 24 August and Thursday 2 September have been called off while the ballot, which opens on 23 August and closes 31 August, is carried out.

Unite national officer for food, drink and agriculture, Joe Clarke, said: “Our members keep the nation’s beer pumps flowing and pint glasses filled, and they deserve a fair pay rise.

“We believe GXO’s offer of 4 per cent delivers this and will be recommending that our members accept the deal.

“All industrial action has been suspended while we conduct this democratic process.

The strike would have had significant effects because the firm delivers beer to about 40% of the country’s hospitality outlets. GXO distributes many major brands, among them those under the Heineken umbrella.

A statement sent to suppliers from Heineken said the strikes are off, subject to a ballot of the 1,000 draymen to take place next week. However, pub operators said they are “not out of the woods just yet” after a turbulent 18 months that has seen outlets forced to close for many months due to the pandemic, and then face the twin problems of staff shortages and the “pingdemic” forcing workers to have to isolate.

Phil Thorley, operations director at Thorley Taverns, which operates 19 sites, told Kent Online: “Although this strike has been called off, we have been having a nightmare for the past month with both wet and food deliveries. One, is it going to turn up? Two, is what you’ve ordered going to be there? That is proving extremely challenging alongside the driver shortage as well as staff shortages in the hospitality industry currently. We’ve had failed deliveries with no strike. It’s happening all over. The most frustrating thing is you don’t get warned about it. It just doesn’t turn up. It’s challenging times at the moment but hospitality is such a resilient industry, it’s not the last straw because we’ll always have the doors open, but it is frustrating.”