As industrial action by Carlton & United Breweries (CUB) maintenance workers in Abbotsford enters its ninth week support continues to grow.
The company is refusing to back down from its decision to sack workers and then offer to rehire them with a 65% pay cut.
The dispute started on June 10 when 55 fitters, electricians and maintenance workers were told they would be sacked, only to then be “invited” to re-apply for their jobs through a third-party contractor, Catalyst Recruitment.
The offer of individual contracts came with no guarantees and would be a barely compliant non-union enterprise agreement. The offer was immediately rejected by the workers and their unions, who proceeded to undertake strike action.
A boycott campaign in support of these workers has begun, with a number of pubs across the country refusing to sell CUB-produced beers. This includes beers such as Carlton Draught, Crown Lager, and the most popular beer in Australia, Victoria Bitter.
One of these pubs, Queensland-based Grand Hotel Yamanto, took to Facebook on July 30 to show its support for the sacked workers: “We have currently taken Victoria Bitter off our taps and won't be selling any CUB products across our bars to show our support for the 55 workers who were sacked. Could you survive on 65% of the wage you'll receive this week?”
The hotel's manager Michael Falvey said taking the beers off tap has been mostly supported by patrons of the pub. “When you take the number one beer off tap, there's always someone who's going to be upset. But most people have been good about it, and they all agree that what's happening is wrong.
“We're a pub with a XXXX contract, so we have the ability to take beers like VB off tap. But some places are contracted, and despite how strongly they feel, they still have staff to pay,” he said.
Other pubs, including popular Melbourne bars The Lincoln and Kent Street Bar, have announced their boycott on Facebook. Social media users have taken to the popular VB Facebook page to tell the brewery just what they feel about the company's actions.