Drinkers could face a beer shortage this Christmas with workers at a Greene King distribution centre in Oxfordshire set to go on strike.

Around 188 workers, including production and distribution staff, drivers and dray men at the Abingdon Distribution Centre in Nuffield Way – and another Greene King site in Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk and Eastwood in Nottinghamshire – will strike over the festive period.

The Unite members will walk out for three days of strike action between December 21 and December 28 and a further four days between December 28 and December 31.

READ MORE: Oxfordshire fire service issues warning after children seen walking across icy pond

The workers voted for strike action after Greene King offered them a three per cent pay increase and a further one-off payment of £650.

Unite state that because the real inflation rate (RPI) currently stands at 14.2 per cent, this amounts to a substantial real terms wage cut.

The strike action comes as members of several other industries are set to walk out during a Christmas of discontent over pay, conditions and jobs, including rail staff, nurses, postal workers, border force staff and driving instructors.

Supplies of well-known ales to pubs, restaurants and shops, including IPA, Old Speckled Hen and Abbot Ale, will be affected by the action.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: "Greene King's ultimate owners are the Hong Kong conglomerate CK Hutchinson Group. They are incredibly wealthy. But workers are only being offered a paltry pay deal which is substantially below the current 14.2 per cent rate of inflation.

"When inflation is almost five times higher than the pay deal on the table it means workers are actually being offered a pay cut which is presented as a pay rise.

"Unite members at Greene King will receive the union's complete and total support throughout their dispute."

Unite regional officer Mark Jaina said: "The strike action will inevitably result in beer shortages this Christmas and New Year but this dispute is entirely down Greene King's own refusal to make a fair pay offer.

"The workers decision to announce a further seven days of strike action is proof that they remain determined. It's time the company stopped playing Scrooge and started genuine pay talks."

Figures this week revealed that working days lost to strike action hit the highest in more than a decade in October.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said that 417,000 working days were lost to labour disputes in October  the highest monthly level since November 2011.

The toll is set to surge as industrial action ramps up this month.

A Greene King spokesperson said: “The majority of our brewing and distribution teams have continued to work and we are incredibly grateful for their hard work and commitment, which has meant disruption has been kept to a minimum and we were able to complete all the deliveries our customers were expecting last week. We’ve met regularly with members of Unite over the past few months since the pay rise offer in May and explained how we aim to be fair and consistent across our business, given the challenging wider economic environment currently.

“We are disappointed Unite has not come back to us with sustainable options to discuss and a minority is attempting to disrupt deliveries to pubs. We have robust contingency plans in place so that pubs continue receiving deliveries from us across Christmas and beyond, at a time when pubs need all the support they can get ahead of what look like an incredibly challenging January and February.”


Read more from this author

This story was written by Sophie Perry. She joined the team in 2021 as a digital reporter.

You can get in touch with her by emailing: sophie.perry@newsquest.co.uk

Follow her on Twitter @itssophieperry

A message from our Editor

Thank you for reading this story and supporting the Oxford Mail.

If you like what we do please consider getting a subscription for the Oxford Mail and in return we’ll give you unrestricted access with less adverts across our website from the latest news, investigations, features, and sport.

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tik Tok for more. 

You can also join the conversation in our Facebook groups: stay ahead of traffic alerts here, keep up to date with the latest from court here, share your favourite memories of Oxford here, get your daily dose of celebrity news here and take some time out with news that will make you smile. 

If you’ve got a story for our reporters, send us your news here. You can also list an event for free here.