Further logistics strikes could lead to beer and restaurant food shortages ahead of festive period

Wed 19 Oct 2022
Posted by: Phillip Adnett
Trade News

Logistics strikes hit food and beer industries

Food and drinks companies could face pre-Christmas shortages as delivery staff look to strike in pursuit of inflation-matching wage rises.

Around 600 workers for food logistics business Bestfood – which delivers for restaurant chains including Pizza Express, KFC, Zizzi, Burger King, Wagamama and Pizza Hut – are threatening industrial action. 

Almost 95% of staff, who are members of the GMB union, rejected a 6% pay offer with 85% saying they wanted to be balloted for industrial action, which is set to be announced in the coming days, reports City AM.  

GMB national officer Nadine Houghton said that Bestfood’s parent companies Booker and Tesco were making healthy profits and paying large dividends, while workers were crushed by the cost of living crisis.

Staff had “bust a gut to deliver fresh, just-in-time food to some of the biggest names in the business”, she added. 

‘Competitive offer’

A Bestfood spokesperson said the company “provides colleagues with a competitive and comprehensive reward package, and we are committed to a constructive dialogue with our colleagues and GMB to reach a way forward”.

A raft of other companies are facing strike action from staff for better pay including Bakkavor, Budweiser, Quorn and GXO.

More than 700 staff from Bakkavor’s plant in Spalding – which makes soups, sauces and deli products for supermarkets – are striking from 1-9 November after rejecting a 6.5% offer, reports Food Manufacture. 

Sharon Graham, general secretary of Unite, which represents the workers said Bakkavor was “hugely profitable but is happy to cut workers’ wages during one of the worst economic crises in recent memory”.

The company said they had been unable to find a solution despite negotiations and the involvement of ACAS. It said it had been “committed to resolving this as soon as possible”.

‘Beer drought’

Another 1,000 Unite-represented workers at GXO, which delivers beer to pubs and bars, are due to walk out for five days on 31 October, reports Sky.

Unite said the strikes would hit supplies to pubs and venues supplied by major breweries, including Heineken, Stonegate, Admiral Taverns and Shepherd Neame. Its members are responsible for 40% of UK beer deliveries.

GXO said its offer was “significantly above 5%”. The cost of inflation rose to 10.1% for September, the ONS announced today.

Hundreds of workers at AB InBev’s Samlesbury brewery in Lancashire have gone on a strike for five days over pay, threatening “a Christmas beer drought” as production of Budweiser, Stella Artois, Becks, Boddingtons and Export Pale Ale stops until Saturday.

The strikes are the latest in a series of stoppages that are affecting supply chains in the UK as workers try to get their wages to keep pace with rising inflation.