Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Action to defend community pubs

Good to see someone taking action to tackle the very visible decline in our community pubs. I wonder if this dispute could save some local pubs in Wrecsam being squeezed to death by the pubcos?


Thousands of "tied tenants" in pubs across Britain will vote in the new year on whether to take industrial action to try to reduce the amount of money they pay to pubcos for beer.

The GMB union said that it was campaigning to secure cuts of £12,000 in payments to the pubcos, which lease thousands of pubs to landlords.

Pubcos are a group of pubs owned by a single company, such as Wetherspoons, Walkabout, All Bar One and the Eerie Pub Company.

There are an estimated 25,000 tied tenants of seven large property companies and the union claimed they were being charged up to double the wholesale price of beer.

The union said that landlords had to buy beer at a premium rate, claiming many were being forced to give up their job or were going bust.

GMB national officer for tied tenants Paul Maloney said: "In furtherance of the trade dispute in tied pubs, GMB will organise a nationwide official ballot in the new year to seek a mandate for official industrial action by tied tenant members in the industry.

"If members vote for action, pubs will lower prices to customers during the dispute.

"The aim of the action by the tied tenants is to secure negotiation with pubcos to achieve very substantial cuts in wholesale prices and a resolution to a wide range of grievances experienced by the tied tenants at the hands of the pubcos, middle managers and their agents."

The GMB said that an Office of Fair Trading (OFT) report estimated that running a tied pub costs £12,000 more than a free house and pubcos were making millions of pounds in profits so could afford to charge lower wholesale prices.

Mr Maloney added that tied tenants had been badly let down by the competition authorities.

"GMB assessed the recent OFT report concluded that the average tied lessee is being overcharged by pubcos by around £12,000 per annum. The OFT position is that this is a trade dispute not a consumer matter," he said.

"Tied tenants need to look to their own strength to force a solution which, for 25,000 tied pubs, would cost £300 million per annum.

"In 2008, the top five pubcos made profits before interest and tax of £1,456m, so they can well afford to lower wholesale prices to stop the overcharging."

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