It has been 17 weeks since Carlton & United Breweries (CUB) terminated, through a contract arrangement, its entire maintenance staff and informed them they could come back to work under non-union terms and with a 65% wage cut.
It is expected that on October 10 CUB will be bought by AB InBev, the largest brewer in the world. It is hoped the new owners will overhaul the management framework and reinstate the sacked workers on their previous wages and conditions.
State secretary of the Electrical Trades Union Victoria Branch Troy Gray told 3CR’s Annie McLoughlin he was optimistic that “common sense would prevail”.
“At the start of the dispute, 1.2 million slabs or cartons went out the gates per week. Last week they managed a grand total of about 180,000,” he said.
“Is [AB InBev] going to continue with the SABMiller strategy, given the fact that there’s next to no beer coming out of this factory they’ve just bought?”
The CUB factory in Yatala, Queensland, has increased production to replace depleted stocks. The increasing public and union pressure on CUB to reinstate the sacked workers is evident as the daily protest outside the factory gates has been growing and the volume of beer leaving has significantly decreased.
Families of the workers were enjoying a sausage sizzle and some rare Melbourne sunshine at the weekly Thursday get together before the AFL Grand Final on October 1. The protest was in high spirits and featured face painting, a magician, showbags and balloon animals to go with the normal pool and poker table, basketball ring and vegie patch.
Support has not only been in the form of widespread endorsements, but donations as well. Gray’s positive comments and attitude were shared by the 55 workers and their families. “Financially we can put food on their tables and we can pay their mortgages up until Christmas.”
[If you are in Melbourne, head down to the protest at Southampton Crescent, Abbotsford on Thursdays around midday for a sausage sizzle, a coffee and a chat with the sacked workers.]