Labour firm at centre of CUB industrial dispute ends contract

Programmed Skilled, the labour hire firm involved in an industrial dispute at Carlton and United Breweries’ facility in Melbourne has terminated its contract with the brewer.

The company said in a statement the move was cause by fears surrounding the ongoing safety of its employees, whom it claims have been verbally abused by picketing workers at the Abbotsford site.

Back in June, a group of 54 maintenance workers at the Abotsford brewery were told that their jobs at the 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.

Since then there have been weekly rallies outside the Melbourne headquarters of the company by the AMWU as well as the Electrical Trades Union (ETU).

“Over many weeks, Programmed has sought a resolution to this issue to the satisfaction of all parties, but to no avail. This has included meeting with CUB and the unions on a number of occasions,” Programmed said in the statement.

“Having failed to find a satisfactory resolution, the company has terminated its agreements with CUB and will work with CUB over the coming weeks to arrange an orderly transition.”

“Programmed’s first priority is to ensure the safety, health and wellbeing of its people, and this has been the key driver for today’s decision.”

As the SMH reports, Electrical Trades Union state secretary Troy Gray said that CUB should now “do the fair, Australian thing and reinstate the sacked workers”.

“The real question for CUB is when is common sense going to prevail?” he said.

“There is no other contractor who would touch this contract with a 40-foot pole due to the disgraceful way CUB has acted in the past 10 weeks.”

CUB said in a statement that, despite the “unacceptable behaviour” towards contractors from Programmed, it had been trying to work with the labour hire company.

“Unions are entitled to their view, but we believe they should not have the power of veto over pay rates of a company which is lawfully employing people at our site,” CUB said.

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