Workers at Kuehne + Nagel went on strike this morning at sites up and down the UK over fears the company’s plans to change its distribution model will disrupt deliveries and lead to significant job losses.
Workers at KNDL, which delivers Fosters, Heineken, Kronenbourg, John Smith’s, Strongbow and Britvic soft drinks to businesses including Wetherspoons, Wells and Young’s, began a 24-hour strike this morning. It is set to end at 10am tomorrow.
“KNDL’s refusal to take our concerns seriously mean there will be significant disruption to the supply of beer right across the country,” said Unite national officer Rhys McCarthy. He added Unite could not rule out further action if the company “continues to drive through change without properly negotiating or assessing the impact these changes are having”.
At the centre of the dispute are plans by KNDL to change its distribution model to move its stock from 11 ‘semi-stocked sites’ to three ‘super hubs’, which will then distribute stock to 23 existing transport sites. Workers fear the move will eventually lead to job losses.
A spokeswoman for KNDL confirmed that a consultation with affected staff had been progressing, and that the main impact would be on management and administration staff. She added that nationally the size of KNDL’s ‘blue collar workforce’ would be unaffected.
“This model meets the changing demands of the market due to consumer behaviour, ensures the long-term sustainability of drinks distribution to licensed premises, and safeguards jobs for the future,” she said.
“At [Monday’s] meeting the company made a number of proposals, including commitment to undertake further meaningful consultation with Unite prior to implementing further changes to its distribution network. The Union was not prepared to accept these proposals and also refused to accept the company’s offer to involve ACAS in further discussions.”
She added that no further meetings were scheduled between KNDL and Unite.
The company said it would use “contingency plans” to minimise disruption during the strike.