A post-lockdown blueprint with health & safety at its heart needs to be hammered out for drivers, draymen, warehouse staff and hospitality workers across the drinks logistics industry, Unite, Britain and Ireland’s largest union, said today (Tuesday 19 May).
Unite, which represents thousands of workers in this sector, is calling for a summit of delivery companies, such as KNDL, Matthew Clark and Tradeteam Ltd; trade unions and other key stakeholders to formulate a strategy for when pubs, restaurants and the hospitality industry generally reopen.
Unite wants to broaden out the summit to include the industry umbrella body, UKHospitality and the British Pub Confederation so that workers in pubs and restaurants can have a voice.
Unite national officer for road transport and logistics Matt Draper said: “We represent thousands of drivers and dray workers across the country.
“They tell us very clearly that they want to engage constructively with their employers for a framework to get back to work safely, once the pubs and restaurants start to reopen.
“To this end, Unite is calling for a summit of industry stakeholders as soon as possible to hammer out a blueprint that puts an effective health & safety regime at its heart, given the new social distancing parameters in the workplace for the return to work and the future.”
One of the safety issues to emerge is that there are full kegs of beer and lager in pub cellars that have to be moved – however, Unite members are only used to removing empty barrels.
Unite national officer for the food and drink industry Joe Clarke said: “Currently, we have full kegs in cellars with millions of gallons in barrels full of potentially stale beer. Our dray members are not currently geared up to removing full 22 gallon barrels as they usually remove empties.
“This is a major issue – and why health & safety must be paramount. It would not be permissible to remove these heavy barrels under the current operating practices.
“In a nutshell, a comprehensive discussion needs to happen with all those involved in the beer delivery industry – hence, the call for a summit. Health & safety issues should be negotiated before there is any consideration to possible redundancies and the future of the job retention scheme (JRS).
“More broadly, the government needs to come up with a coherent joined-up package to underpin the future viability of the UK’s 40,000 pubs on which the drinks logistics industry relies on.”