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Issue #1746      August 31, 2016

Pour shame on brewer

The union movement is swinging behind 54 sacked brewery maintenance workers who have held the first of its weekly protests outside CUB’s Melbourne corporate headquarters.

Supporters from many unions stood with Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union and the Electrical Trades Union members in driving winter rain to warn bosses that shortages of VB, Pure Blonde and other beers would ruin their peak footy finals market unless the workers were reinstated with their conditions and pay intact.

And we’re inviting unionists to join us every Thursday at 12 noon outside CUB at 77 Southbank Boulevard to publicly shame the company.

AMWU state secretary Steve Dargavel, assistant secretary Craig Kelly and ETU secretary Troy Gray went into the CUB foyer to tell a company executive that we won’t be going away until it abandons its strategy to slash wages by up to 65 percent.

“This is the way some of our members with 30 years service are rewarded by CUB, it’s a despicable act,” Mr Kelly told the rally, encouraging AMWU members to give to the workers’ fighting fund.

Gray said: “This will be a war of attrition and we will win it.”

Unionist Chris Brown told AMWU News: “This could happen to any union member, it’s why we have to stay strong because some companies have no respect for their tradesmen.”

It’s a month since CUB, controlled by South African multinational SABMiller, suddenly replaced its maintenance contractor with the firm Programmed-Skilled Maintenance.

This infamous non-union operator offered the fitters and electricians their jobs back with a 65 percent pay cut.

However, the decision by CUB is disrupting production with the stores of packaged beer for retail outlets rapidly dwindling as production dries up by half.

The maintenance fitters and electricians have a camp outside the Abbotsford brewery in South Audley Street, where they will also be holding a solidarity brekky barbecue to kick off the protesting week every Monday from 6am onwards. The AMWU and ETU are also using social media to tell consumers of CUB’s biggest brands about the dispute.

AMWU member Peter Kerr-Chapman said workers realised this issue went beyond CUB and brewing to the wage standards of skilled maintenance workers across manufacturing.

“If CUB get away with this, it won’t be good for anyone,” he said.

“Manufacturing is already in a rough spot and the last thing we need are employers sacking people to wind back conditions won over many decades.”

Next article – CPA Statement – The peace agreement for Colombia

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