Scottish & Newcastle workers vote to strike over pay
Pubs in the south-east of England could face beer supply problems after workers at Scottish & Newcastle's brewery in Reading voted for strike action in a dispute over pay.
Scottish & Newcastle is the UK's biggest brewer and produces some of the best known beer brands, including Fosters, Kronenbourg and John Smith's.
About 300 brewery workers belonging to trade union Unite have voted by a margin of nine to one to take industrial action over threats to their pay. Unite said the move follows the company's decision to cut the link between basic pay and overtime and other enhanced rates.
The union claimed that any industrial action would cause "major problems" as there was no storage capacity at the Reading site.
Mick Pollek, Unite regional industrial organiser, said: "It has been a long-standing agreement that any increase in basic pay has flowed through to all other rates.
"But according to the deal offered this time, the brewery wants to cut the link. That's what has angered our members to the point that if the company persists in its stand they will strike."
In a statement, S&N said: "Detailed discussions between union representatives and S&N continue and we hope to use the services of Acas (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) to find a mutually agreeable solution.
"In the unlikely event that any production is lost at the site, we are confident that this would be made up through contingencies.
"At present, the site is operating normally and there are no immediate implications for customers or consumers."
The news came as Scottish & Newcastle revealed its half-year profits had risen by 5.5% to £191m, less than forecast after beer sales were hit by wet weather in June.
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By Daniel Thomas
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