It has been 125 days since the Carlton & United Breweries (CUB) plant in Abbotsford sacked 55 electricians and fitters, who have a combined history of 906 years of service at CUB, and a protest was begun at the brewery gates.
Since then, the ownership and labour contractor of CUB have changed and thousands of Australians have joined a boycott of CUB products.
The CUB dispute has led to a Senate enquiry into “Corporate Avoidance of the Fair Work Act (2009)” as Australian companies are increasingly using labour hire and outsourcing to legally cut workers’ pay and conditions.
The Senate enquiry, which was endorsed by parliament unopposed, will also investigate the use of “artificially small and unrepresentative voting cohorts to approve agreements”. The enterprise agreement that led to the CUB dispute was voted on by just three casual workers in Perth two years ago.
The Electrical Trades Union (ETU) said: “There will no doubt be hundreds of examples in addition to CUB, and we look forward to them all being uncovered and getting our employment laws fixed once and for all.”
Community and union supporters joined the sacked workers for a lunchtime protest outside CUB headquarters in Southbank on October 13. This week’s rally was a chance to send the message to AB InBev, CUB’s new owners, to resolve the dispute and reinstate the sacked workers on their previous wages and conditions.
At the lunchtime protest AB InBev was welcomed by ETU assistant secretary Ivan Balta, who made clear “the 55 workers are happy to go back to work tomorrow”. Balta told the Belgian beverage conglomerate: “We’ll give you a week or so to talk.”
ETU organiser Steve Diston, echoed the strength of the campaign and drew loud applause by asserting: “That brewery will crumble before our resolve does.”
The boycott of CUB products now spreading across Australia has some new beers to avoid since the InBev takeover with Beck’s, Budweiser, Corona, Stella and Hoegaarden being added to the list.
All Australian workers who believe in a fair go should be outraged by the tactics of the CUB. Show your disgust and support the sacked 55 CUB workers by boycotting CUB beers.
[Click here for the full list of drinks to boycott and for more information on the dispute.]