Around 50 workers from the Fosters brewery at Yatala, south of Brisbane, and their supporters rallied outside the Carlton United Brewery (CUB) head office in Fortitude Valley on July 27 in support of their campaign for a union agreement. The protesters held up placards and waved to passing traffic, who honked their support.
Despite the fact that the great majority of workers at the site are union members and want a union agreement, CUB is refusing to budge on the issue. The rally was co-sponsored by the three unions involved, the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, the Electrical Trades Union (ETU) and the Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Union.
Two members' meetings on July 26 resolved that the agreement negotiating committee stop all discussions with management until the company agreed to talk about a union agreement. Scott Wilson, an ETU organiser, told Green Left Weekly, "Fosters wants to freeze the union out. Yatala workers work three hours more per week, for up to 35% less pay, than their counterparts in other states, all of whom have a union agreement.
"Fosters is jealously guarding its non-union agreement at Yatala, which goes back to the early days of Bernie Powers' Power Brewery, before CUB took the plant over. Now, about 85% of Yatala workers are pro-union."
Dick Williams, ETU state secretary, told the rally: "This dispute is about equity and fairness. We will win this dispute, and you will have an agreement that you will be happy to work under."
The unions are circulating a "drinkers' petition" in hotels around the city calling on Fosters to treat its employees in all states equally and negotiate a union agreement at Yatala.