As if we’re not suffering enough from shortages caused by climate change, war, trade deals gone wrong, staff shortages, lorry queues, pandemics. lockdowns and depleting resources, we are now reportedly facing the threat of running out of beer – because of industrial action.
Pubs, clubs, off-licences and supermarkets could soon be running dry at the very time of the year temperatures are set to edge into the mid-20s after unions opted to go on strike in a row over pay. Workers have reportedly voted to take action and down tools at a factory where popular thirst-quenchers such as Budweiser, Stella Artois, Boddingtons and Becks are brewed.
Organiser Stephen Boden, of the GMB – the General, Municipal, Boilermakers union, which represents employees in retail, security, schools, distribution, the utilities, social care, the National Health Service (NHS), ambulance service and local government – told The Sun newspaper: “The last thing these workers want to do is jeopardise beer supplies just as the hot weather kicks in but they’ve been pushed into this by bosses essentially slashing their wages during a cost of living crisis. Anyone fancying a pint of Budweiser, Stella Artois, Becks, Boddingtons or Export Pale Ale could go thirsty this summer.”
More than 200 staff at the Samlesbury site near Preston in Lancashire are poised to walk out on for two days a week from June 6 having rejected a pay offer of three per cent for 2022 to 2023. A spokeswoman for Budweiser Brewing Group said: “We are hopeful that through a continued, open dialogue we can still reach a mutually acceptable way forward.”
In a note offering a glimmer of reassurance, she added: “The teams have plans in place to minimise the impact on customers and supply. Budweiser Brewing Group has a positive and long-standing relationship with the GMB. However, despite open and comprehensive negotiations, the GMB has confirmed that industrial action is going ahead at our Samlesbury brewery in June.
“Our people are our greatest strength, and as such we are proud to offer a competitive package – rated in the 90th percentile – with benefits that include private medical cover and bonuses.”
There are fears that a strike at the plant could force up the price of a pint – at the very moment consumers are facing unprecedented financial hardship as the cost of living crisis takes the country in a stranglehold. The price of a pint could now rise from the UK average of £4.07 to £4.40 – possibly hitting an eye-watering £5.22 in London. It comes weeks after Marston’s Brewery, a large supplier of ales, announced price rises of between 20p and 45p a pint .
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