Below is the Mandate Trade Union in Dublin’s solidarity message to the Carlton and United Brewery strikers.
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Mandate, the union for retail and bar workers in Ireland, has sent a message of solidarity to the 55 sacked workers of the Carlton United Breweries plant in Abbottsford, Victoria and urges all Irish workers based in Australia to support the workers as they struggle for their rights and their jobs.
Mandate general secretary John Douglas said: “We recognise this as a deliberate attempt by a large-scale conglomerate to crush the rights of a unionised workforce and introduce insecure working conditions to significantly reduce their bargaining power in the future.
“This cannot and should not be tolerated by any workers in Australia, because if CUB gets away with this reprehensible behaviour, other employers will try to undermine working conditions for their workers.”
The dispute began on June 10 when 55 fitters, electricians and maintenance workers, backed by the Electrical Trades Union (ETU) and the Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union (AMWU), were told by management they would be sacked, only to be then “invited” to re-apply for their jobs through a third-party contractor, Catalyst Recruitment.
The new jobs came with an effective 65% wage cut.
The offer of individual contracts came with no guarantees. The offer was immediately rejected by the workers and their unions, who proceeded to undertake [industrial] action.
CUB is owned by a big multinational company, SAB Miller, with billions of dollars in turnover and a large share of the international beer market. SAB Miller made $4.4 billion in operating profit in 2015 and its CEO Alan Clark is expected to receive $62 million in earnings this year. In 2015–2016, SABMiller paid zero tax in Australia.
While it is attacking its workers in Melbourne, SAB Miller is also attacking its Indian workforce at the Sonepat brewery in the state of Haryana, India.
For more than 11 weeks, the workers have maintained a community picket outside the Abbottsford brewery, with the support of trade unions, the local community and an increasing number of pubs, bars and small breweries that have refused to purchase and serve any of the beers and beverages produced at the CUB plant.
Mandate has fought against the attempts by retail companies to introduce zero-hour and casual contracts across Ireland. We commend the actions of our comrades in the ETU, AMWU and the greater Australian trade union community for standing up for these workers and defending their right to well-paid and secure jobs.
An injury to one is an injury to all!
If you want to support the CUB workers in Australia, here are the brands to avoid until the dispute is resolved: Victoria Bitter, VB Gold, Carlton Draught, Carlton Mid, Carlton Dry, Carlton Cold, Carlton Black, Cascade Pale Ale, Cascade Stout, Cascade Premium Light, Cascade Draught, Cascade Bitter, Crown Lager, Melbourne Bitter, Pure Blonde, Fosters, Light Ice, Matilda Bay, Redback Beer, Dogbolter, Dark Ale, Alpha Pale Ale, Fat Yak, Lazy Yak, Great Northern Super Crisp, Power’s Gold, Reschs, Grolsch, Pilsner Urquell, Peroni, Miller, Strongbow, Mercury, Bulmers, Redd’s Apple Ale, Abbotsford Invalid Stout, Sheaf Stout.