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Unite calls for beer safety ‘summit’ ahead of pubs reopening

Unite has called for a ‘beer delivery summit’ to “hammer out” health and safety protocol for workers across the beer supply chain as the UK’s coronavirus lockdown eases.

The union has urged big players in drinks distribution to create a strategy for when the hospitality industry eventually reopens, highlighting new health and safety issues brought to the fore by the coronavirus outbreak.

“Currently, we have full kegs in cellars with millions of gallons in barrels full of potentially stale beer,” said its national officer for the food & drink industry, Joe Clarke. “Our dray members are not currently geared up to removing full 22-gallon barrels as they usually remove empties.”

To remove those heavy barrels would not be permissible under current operating practices.

“A comprehensive discussion needs to happen with all those involved in the beer delivery industry, hence the call for a summit,” he said. “Health and safety issues should be negotiated before there is any consideration to possible redundancies and the future of the job retention scheme.”

It comes as British Beer & Pub Association figures last week revealed some 70 million pints of beer bound for British pubs would have to be destroyed after the pubs were forced to close in March.

“Although the government has said that the duty paid on the wasted beer can be claimed back by brewers and pubs, it is still an enormous task for the industry and heart-breaking to see so much British beer, brewed with supreme skill and care, poured away rather than enjoyed in pubs across the UK,” said the BBPA.