‘Beer drought’ warning after Stella and Budweiser’s factory staff threaten strikes

Man's hands pour a glass of beer in a backyard with a plate of spicy chicken wings on the wooden table in the foreground

Workers at a beer factory near Preston take a stand on their ‘insulting’ wage increase (Image: Getty Images)

Britain could face shortages of summer beer as Stella Artois and Budweiser’s factory staff threaten to strike over wages, a union warns.

As the cost of living crisis hits the UK, workers have said the current wage increase they have been offered is not enough.

After ‘months of discussion’, the Budweiser Brewing Group (BBG) offered a 3% increase for 2022 and again for 2023, as well as increased overtime.

The GMB union called the ‘competition package’ ‘insulting’ and pointed out that it would constitute an overall cut for workers, with inflation in the UK hitting 9%.

Now, more than 200 employees at BBG’s factory in Samlesbury, near Preston, will start a work overtime ban from 11 May.

Workers at the site, who also brew Becks, Boddingtons and Export Pale Ale, will refuse to attend face-to-face training or complete face-to-face transfers.

GMB organizer Stephen Boden said: ‘They choose to ignore workers and put profit before people with this ridiculous wage offer.

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

Bottles of Stella Artois lager beer, produced by Anheuser-Busch InBev NV, will be unveiled at a press conference in Hong Kong, China, on Tuesday, September 17, 2019. Anheuser-Busch InBev NV is reviving Hong Kong's listed offering of its Asian unit and is set to to raise as much as $ 4.8 billion, about half of a previous goal.  Photographer: Kyle Lam / Bloomberg via Getty Images

In addition to Stella Artois and Budweiser, the site also makes Becks, Boddingtons and Export Pale Ale (Image: Getty Images)

‘How can they expect hard-working staff to accept a real pay cut? But it is not too late for the management to listen to the workers and return to the table with us to find a fair deal. ‘

“But it is not too late for the management to listen to the workers and come back to the table with us to find a fair deal.”

A spokesman for the Budweiser Brewing Group – the British arm of Anheuser-Busch InBev – said negotiations had been ‘open and comprehensive’ despite the vote on the labor dispute.

They added: ‘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 coverage and bonuses.

“We have made significant investments in Samlesbury, which has resulted in further innovation and automation, further skills development, promotions and many new job opportunities. In recent years, we have increased our staff by over 65.

‘We hope that through a continued open dialogue we can still arrive at a mutually acceptable way forward that will avoid hostilities. The teams have plans in place to minimize the impact on customers. ‘

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