Festive season strike threat to Leeds brewery deliveries

Delivery drivers and warehouse staff at a Leeds brewery depot could be asked to vote on strike action in the run up to Christmas in a dispute over pay and conditions, according to the GMB union.

The Carlsberg depot in Tingley, Leeds, previously visited by the then Chancellor George Osborne in the run up to the 2015 General Election.

The union represents DHL workers, who deal with deliveries from Carlsberg’s depot in the city, and it is calling for the logistics firm to address what it claims are “draconian” working conditions and “excessive workloads” on lorry drivers, dray and warehouse staff.

GMB said that a new contract imposed by DHL on workers has seen “major” changes to working hours and pay “in what amounts to a clear breach of previously agreed terms”.

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The union claims that the conditions are having a “huge impact” on the health, safety and welfare of its members.

GMB said it was set to hold talks with senior DHL managers in Leeds this week and that other depots were holding similar talks.

It warned that if DHL does not listen to its concerns, then the union will consult its members with an expected mandate for a ballot on industrial action.

Ben Kirkham, GMB organiser, said: “The safety of our members is something that cannot be ignored.

“It is paramount that DHL have a duty of care to our members who cannot continue to work under this pressure.

“These draconian conditions are having an impact on their health and safety - paid driver rest breaks have been removed and working hours.

“On top of all this, the expected Christmas closure of the subsidised canteen will leave a bitter taste to the end of an already unhappy year.

“Unless a solution can be reached over the new contract then GMB will consult with members on a ballot for industrial action with a view to taking strike action or action short of a strike in the run-up to Christmas.”

Carlsberg UK outsourced its secondary logistics operations to specialist drinks distribution provider DHL Trade Team earlier this year.

A spokesperson for Carlsberg UK said: “Any speculation around potential industrial action led by Unite involving DHL Trade Team staff is a matter for DHL Trade Team. We will be working closely with DHL Trade Team to ensure service to our customers is uninterrupted.”

DHL has been asked to comment.