Thousands of pub landlords could go on strike in the New Year in an attempt to cut back on the amount of money they have to pay to large pub-owning companies.
The GMB union said landlords working on ‘tied’ contracts with companies like Marston’s, Punch Taverns and Enterprise Inns would be balloted on industrial action.
The GMB union said it was campaigning to secure cuts of £12,000 in payments to the pubcos - which lease thousands of pubs to landlords.
The union said landlords had to buy beer at a premium rate, claiming that many were being forced to give up their job or were were going bust.
There are an estimated 25,000 tied tenants of the seven largest ‘pubcos’ and the union claimed they were being charged up to double the wholesale price of beer.
GMB national officer 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, using figures from an Office of Fair Trading report, it estimated that running a tied pub cost £12,000 more than a free house.
The union said pubcos were making millions of pounds in profits so could afford to charge lower wholesale prices.