Pubs across Australia have stopped serving beers supplied by Carlton & United Breweries (CUB) as an act of support for workers sacked by the company.
The Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union (AMWU) is urging beer drinkers to join the boycott and support the workers who were told in June that their jobs at CUB’s Abbotsford brewery had been re-contracted to a new service subcontractor, Programmed-Skilled Maintenance, and that they would have to reapply to keep them.
However, the new contracts did not include the conditions of the previous contracts and involved pay cuts of up to 65 per cent. They refused and now find themselves unemployed.
Industrial action against CUB has included weekly rallies outside the Melbourne headquarters of the company by the AMWU as well as the Electrical Trades Union (ETU).
The beer boycott sprang up through a social media campaign and pubs participating in it include The Lincoln in Melbourne, and the Cecil Hotel in Queensland.
“For anyone drinking a CUB beer or cider, just consider, ‘Do you think it’s fair the company has sacked 55 workers and forced them to reapply?’” AWMU assistant state secretary Craig Kelly told the New Daily.
CUB, which is controlled by South African multinational SABMiller, claims to have no direct contractual relationship with the sacked workers. The issue of pay and conditions, it says, is the responsibility of the new subcontractor.
The company claims that unions and workers were informed of the new arrangements in January and that some of the sacked workers have taken up the new contracts.
“Unions have been aggressively targeting CUB and its brands over the last few weeks trying to enforce their terms and conditions on an independent contractor which provides workers to CUB,” a company spokesperson told The New Daily.
“CUB acknowledges that any change of contract or commercial decision can impact people and their families, which is why the previous contractor and their employees were told six months ago that their contract would end. All entitlements were paid by the contractor, including redundancies, pay in lieu of notice and leave entitlements.”