There could be trouble brewing as Lancashire beer makers face a pay row

There could be trouble brewing in Lancashire after more than 200 beer makers voted for industrial action over pay.

By Tim Gavell
Saturday, 7th May 2022, 4:55 am

A total of 225 GMB members working at Budweiser Brewing Group’s Samlesbury site, near Preston, will start an overtime time ban, not engage in training or complete face to face handovers from next Wednesday after a pay review that they say is a real terms pay cut.

The site brews Budweiser, Stella Artois, Becks, Boddingtons and Export Pale Ale for parent company AB Inbev which this week reported a strong start to the year with beer volumes up 2.8 per cent against the same quarter in 2019, before the impact of the pandemic.

Union bosses said that after months of discussion with the world’s biggest brewer they were made a final offer of 3 per cent increase for 2022 and 3 per cent for 2023 with increases in overtime rates.

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Workers at AB Inbev Brewery at Samlesbury have voted for industrial action over pay

But they said that with the cost-of-living crises and inflation at 9 per cent, the offer amounts to a massive pay cut in real terms and members voted for industrial action including potential full strike action for the first time.

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History of brewing in Preston

Stephen Boden, GMB Organiser, said: “This industrial action is a result of Budweiser brewing groups management making a frankly insulting pay offer.

“They are choosing to ignore workers and put profit before people with this derisory pay offer.

Bosses at AB Inbev Brewery, Samlesbury say they hope to resolve the dispute with talks

Workers are rightly angry and if this strike goes the distance Budweiser could face a summer beer drought.

“But it’s not too late for management to listen to workers and get back round the table with us to work out a fair deal.”

A spokesman from Budweiser Brewing Group said: “Budweiser Brewing Group has a positive and long-standing relationship with the GMB, however despite open and comprehensive negotiations with the GMB, industrial action has been voted for at our Samlesbury brewery.

"Our people are our greatest strength, and as such we are proud to offer a competitive package – in the 90th percentile for total compensation – with benefits that include private medical cover and bonuses.

AB Inbev Brewery at Samlesbury

“We’ve made significant investments in Samlesbury which have resulted in further innovation and automation, additional skills development, promotions and many new job opportunities. Over recent years we have increased our headcount by over 65.

 ”We are hopeful that through a continued open dialogue we can still reach a mutually acceptable way forward which will avoid industrial action.

“The teams have plans in place to minimise the impact on customers.”