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Unite union to ballot Carling workers

Unite, the country’s largest union, is to ballot employees at Molson-Coors in Burton-on-Trent over possible strike action.

The union claims that its members will be asked to vote for strike action in a dispute over a package of “management proposals”.

Unite regional officer Rick Coyle said: “Our members, the vast majority of the workforce, are very angry at the hardline attitude of the management which could mean they are sacked and then re-employed on inferior contracts.

“The 90-day consultation period on these proposals ends on 14 June. Members will then be subject to individual consultations and face being sacked and re-engaged. This could be done between then and the end of the year.

“Unite wants an equable and fair settlement with the management of this very profitable company and is ready for constructive negotiations. However, the management’s stance has meant our members voting on strike action, given the atmosphere of duress and threat to their livelihoods.”

In response to Unite’s balloting action a spokesman for Molson Coors said: “Since July 2012, Molson Coors has been engaged in discussions with Unite representatives with the purpose of identifying opportunities to save costs and increase flexibility to enable Burton Brewery and Shobnall Maltings to compete in a declining beer industry and challenging economic environment.

“Proposals we recently put to our employees cover potential changes to organisational structures, terms and conditions of employment as well as flexible ways of working. This, alongside the investment we are making in the brewery itself, will build a sustainable future for brewing in Burton.

“Following a recent statement from Unite, we wanted to clear up some confusion about the proposals we recently put to employees: 1. All salaries will be protected at their current level for two years. 2. All brewery employees will be entitled to annual leave during which they will not be contacted and cannot be called into work.

“While the changes to shifts we have proposed are significant for our employees, they are common practice for British manufacturers. We appreciate the impact these changes will have on some of our Burton Brewery and Shobnall Maltings employees and we remain committed to working with Unite to find a solution for all parties.

“This is the spirit in which we will continue our discussions with Unite and our employees.”

Unite claimed the new shift system will mean that not everyone will be able to have an annual two-week holiday, “because workers will be rung up and asked to come even when they are on leave.”

The Burton plant produces Carling, Grolsch, Coors Lite and Cobra lagers, as well as beers including Worthington, White Shield and Stones.

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