Employees at Burton-on-Trent's Molson Coors brewery have voted overwhelmingly for strike action after 455 staff were told they faced being sacked and reinstated on inferior pay and conditions.
The workers voted 97% in favour of industrial action over management proposals from Britain’s biggest brewery, which include cutting the wages of 184 brewery technicians by up to £9,000-a-year.
Rick Coyle, union Unite’s officer for the West Midlands region, said the strike action illustrates the strength of feeling towards the company from its workforce.
Unite argue that Molson Coors remains a highly profitable company which benefited greatly from Chancellor George Osborne’s reduction in beer duty.
“Talks are carrying on today (Wednesday). The management has engaged in a constructive dialogue and Unite is seeking a settlement that is fair to our members – and we are working very hard to achieve that end.”
Coyle added: ”Until these talks have concluded – and depending on the outcome – the union won’t be announcing any strike dates.”
One of the key issues in the dispute is that employees have been given notice of radical new shift patterns with 30 days annual leave – leaving 335 days either working, or at home and contactable to come into work at 23 hours notice.
The North American company’s Burton plant produces Carling, Grolsch, Coors Lite and Cobra lagers, as well as beers including Worthington, White Shield and Stones, and is a key employer in the area.
Earlier this week, a mass rally was held at the nearby Burton Albion football club, where the ballot results were greeted with roars of approval.
This followed demonstrations in Burton last weekend from the workers.