Foster's workers continue campaign for union rights

Issue 

Brewery workers at the Foster's Yatala plant, near Beenleigh south of Brisbane, are continuing their campaign for a union collective agreement. The workers — members of the Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers Union, the Electrical Trades Union (ETU) and the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union — are holding pickets outside the brewery gates from 1-5pm on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, as well as some night-time pickets.

At the picket on November 13, Scott Wilson, an ETU organiser, outlined plans to step up the campaign in the face of a third attempt by Foster's management to ram through a non-union agreement. The Yatala workers have already voted to reject two such company proposals.

The unions are planning to send a delegation down to Melbourne to lobby Foster's head-office management and seek further solidarity assistance from unions in Victoria. Workers on the picket line describe management's third offer, which is similar to the previous one, as "insulting".

Foster's have been hiring casual workers and seeking to give them a vote on the agreement, in an attempt to wear down the established workers' resistance. But the workers on the picket line remain defiant and determined to win what they regard as a "test case" for the Howard government's Work Choices anti-union laws.

They are hoping that a Labor victory in the upcoming federal election would at least open the door to progress on their claims. At present, Work Choices means that they feel severely restricted in their ability to prevent trucks crossing their picket line and entering the plant.

Community support for the picket line is being called for, with the focus being on a mobilisation of supporters on November 21, from 1-5pm. For more information, phone Scott on 0419 721 047.

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