CUB unionists struggle

CUB unionists win December:
Update 25 August: Walk off by United Voice and CFMEU members supports sacked maintenance workers workers.

From the ETU Victoria
In response to a large number of people struggling to comprehend what has occurred at CUB and how CUB can legally slash the wages of their maintenance workforce, we have spelled out the facts.
7 years ago CUB used a labour hire company to cut its permanent workforce by almost 50%, leaving a skeleton crew of 55 to cover the 24 hour 7 day a week brewing production at the plant.
Fundraiser to support CUB workers
On 9 JUNE at 5pm the entire maintenance workforce of CUB Abbottsford (55 qualified tradesmen, including 5 apprentices) were told they would not be required to attend work the next day. But to attend a meeting at an off-site hotel instead.
Concurrently, secretly recruited temporary workers were flown in from interstate, put up in a hotel, to be bussed into CUB behind blackened windows to replace the workers the next day.
This was 7 weeks BEFORE the end of the maintenance contract CUB had with the entity it used to employ its permanent, full time, on-site maintenance workforce at Abbottsford Brewery: Who have a combined history of 906 years of service at CUB.
On 10 JUNE at 9am the CUB maintenance workers attended the meeting and were immediately sacked without even the ability to return to site to pick up their tools.
This is important: These workers are NOT on strike, they were SACKED.

They were then told they could all reapply for their exact same jobs through a new contractor. They were not told who the new employing entity would be or what the terms and conditions of employment were.

Right to strike

Right to strike

Note: By using a contract arrangement CUB is able to evade the legal rights Australians have for their employer not to unilaterally cut wages to make employees worse off overall.

ON 16 JUNE after 6 days of CUB and Programmed not responding to the ETU or the AMWU in any meaningful way, the ETU dragged Programmed to the Fair Work Commission. What was revealed was astonishing
Programmed proposed to use a previously dormant entity from WA called CATALYST RECRUITMENT SYSTEMS PTY LTD who have an ‘Enterprise’ Agreement that is the minimum safety net Award, plus 50 cents.
The effect of this for these 24 hour a day, 7 day a week maintenance workers amounts to a 65% reduction in real wages.

That is 65% less than the wages of over 10,000 A Grade electricians employed in Victoria working 24 hour 7 day a week rosters.
In the weeks following, there has been a very high turnover in the temporary staff replacing the maintenance workforce.

The lack of skills and experience of replacement workers in the highly sophisticated CUB Abbottsford facility have resulted in a dramatic loss of production at the plant.

According to operational accounts, the volume of cases of beer per week from the Brewery have fallen from approx 1.1 Million cases of beer per week to 400,000 per week.

The tactics engaged in by CUB appear aimed to maximize the harmful impact on workers through their “contract renewal” process, to coerce them into returning to do exactly the same job, on massively reduced pay.

This notwithstanding the years of dedicated, hard working, loyal service and demonstrable value to CUB of these workers and their skills.
This tactic has been used for decades in the UK to decimate the wages and job security of workers. UK tradies are now increasingly forced to front up to labour hire venues every morning, to find out if they have work that day, or not. Now its being rolled out here. Permanent, insecure work that can force down wages is the end game of these labour hire tactics.

All Australian workers who believe in a fair go should be outraged by the tactics of the CUB. Show your disgust and support the sacked 55 CUB workers by boycotting CUB beers.
To show your support you can:
1. Send the company a message demanding the immediate reinstatement of the workers here:

2. Sign the petition calling on SABMiller boss Ari Mervis to intervene and reinstate the workers here:
3. Boycott C.U.B. products until the workers are reinstated. You can find a list of their brands here:
US report
Worth watching this Channel 10 report featuring the iconic ad
News update to boycott CUB

From the AMWU Victoria
Visit the peaceful protest at the CUB Abbotsford site. Click here for a map of the location.
Make a donation to support the sacked workers.
In an outrageous act of corporate greed, 55 CUB workers were terminated without notice and then offered a take-it-or-leave-it non-union deal with a 65 per cent reduction in monetary entitlements and cuts to most of their hard-won conditions.

right to strike

right to strike

This advertisement was booked to run in tomorrow’s edition of the Herald Sun, to draw attention to the plight of 55 C.U.B. workers unfairly sacked and offered their jobs back at 65% less pay. But being the darlings of the big end of town that they are, they have refused to run it. So instead we need you to share it far and wide!
As this dispute enters it 7th week, we need your help to increase the pressure on the company.
4. In Melbourne attend CUB workers protests
CUB workers stand strong Friday, July 22, 2016
By Denis Rogatyuk
Striking workers at CUB have entered their seventh week of industrial action.
The industrial action by Carlton & United Breweries (CUB) maintenance workers in Abbotsford has entered its seventh week. The company is refusing to back down from its decision to sack the 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 backed by the Electrical Trades Union (ETU) and the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) were told by management that they would be sacked, only to be then “invited” to re-apply for their job through a third-party contractor, Catalyst Recruitment.

The offer of individual contracts came with no guarantees and would be a barely compliant non-union EBA. The offer was immediately rejected by the workers and their unions, who proceeded to undertake strike action.
According to the ETU, the company was fully aware of the consequences of its decision. It had already planned to bring in scabs from 5 Star Electrical Services, as well as a workforce from other states to replace the maintenance workers.

The workers have maintained a community picket at the CUB site with the support of their unions, families, and other unions including the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) and the Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union (CFMEU).

At the same time, both the ETU and the AMWU have been organising weekly protests at the CUB Victorian head office in Southbank.

A mass protest of more than 200 activists was organised at the Abbotsford Brewery on July 20. Victorian ETU state secretary Troy Gray, Victorian Trades Hall Council secretary Luke Hilakari and Sex Party MP Fiona Patten were among the speakers who the protest.

Several ETU and AMWU officials and organisers have spoken to Green Left Weekly over the past two weeks about the strike action, their prospects and the support they have received from the wider community.

Speaking to Green Left Weekly and 3CR Community Radio at the rally in Southbank, AMWU assistant state secretary Craig Kelly mentioned the great work and cooperation between the workers and the two unions while pointing out the increasingly difficult economic position for the company.

“It’s a state-of-the-art brewery and for that you need state-of-the-art trades people. It is currently not producing beer at the high volumes that our members keep it running at, because when you have scabs, they tend to lack principles and generally do not have the required skills.”

“We’ve been shoulder to shoulder [with the ETU] as we always are. Our members work alongside electricians on the job and both our unions have a long tradition of representing blue-collar workers together. We’ve also received generous support from other unions and worksites. The metalworkers [for example] donated meat for all the barbeques we’ve been holding at the strike site.”

Speaking to Green Left Radio ETU organiser Steve Diston gave some background on the dispute and the current situation facing electricians:

“CUB is owned by a big multinational company, SAB Miller, with billions of dollars of turnover. They’ve managed to find a way to pay no tax, while their CEO is in for a $64 million bonus.

“To top it off, they are attacking Australian workers while not contributing to society in any meaningful way.”

“They have been forced to bring in scabs from interstate, like Western Australia and New South Wales, since they’ve had trouble finding workers in Victoria. They simply do not have the skill sets required. The electricians here are on 5-year dual trade apprenticeships and they are very highly skilled.

“The production [at the brewery] has fallen by more than 50% since the start of the dispute. There are breakdowns everywhere, and they just can’t fix them.”

“There’s 906 years of experience in this combined workforce sitting out the front now, ready and available to do the work. All that they ask is to be treated with the same dignity as 10,000 other electricians on the same agreement that they were on at the start of this dispute.”

The ETU and the AMWU have launched a social media and solidarity campaign titled “CUB: Crushing Workers’ Rights” calling for the boycott of all CUB-owned products and merchandise, such as Victoria Bitter, Crown, Melbourne Bitter and Carlton Draught.

The aim of the campaign is to bring awareness of the disgraceful way that the company has treated the workers and to encourage shoppers and community members to show solidarity by buying beer products of other companies.

[You can support the striking CUB workers and their families directly by making a donation to CUB Dispute, BSB 063-626, Account 10629111 as well as signing the petition. You can also visit the striking workers at their picket on Southampton Crescent at Abbotsford.]

It’s shameful that CUB workers are paying a price for being union and doing their job well, while the multinational beer conglomerate SAB Miller (that owns CUB) made US $4.4 billion in profits in 2015 and whose CEO, Alan Clark, is estimated to receive $62 million in earnings this year.

‘They want to pay us nothing for what we do’. CUB workers fight on
Reinstate now

Su Bolton earlier report
has won very good working conditions and pay.

Prior to the sackings, CUB forced the workers to work enormous amounts of overtime — more than 60 hours a week — in order to stockpile beer before the dispute.

However, beer supplies in Melbourne are running low with the inexperienced scabs unable to maintain the level of beer production before the dispute. It requires specialised electricians and fitters to be able to maintain the machines.

CUB brew the Carlton beers, Pure Blonde, VB and the Bulmer’s ciders. CUB dominates the Australian beer market, owning five of the 10 biggest brands, including VB, Australia’s single most popular brand.

Australia’s undemocratic industrial relations laws allow companies to sack workers without prior notice, and also allow companies to get injunctions from the court banning pickets, banning workers from calling union busting workers “scabs” and banning the use of megaphones.

CUB is owned by a multinational beer conglomerate SAB Miller. SAB Miller made $4.4 billion in operating profit in 2015 and its CEO Alan Clark is estimated to receive $62 million in earnings this year. In 2015-2016, SABMiller paid zero tax in Australia.

SABMiller is preparing to merge with another beer giant Anheuser-Busch InBev in a deal worth US$104 billion. This newly merged company will control the overwhelming majority of the beer market internationally.

CUB’s international owner, the London-based SABMiller maintains US$22 billion a year in revenue as it prepares to sell itself to another beer giant, Anheuser-Busch InBev in a deal worth US$104 billion.

Last year, SABMiller paid zero tax.

SABMiller claims its action is legal because it has no direct contractual relationship with the maintenance crews laid off — it has been with one subcontractor and it is merely passing the contract to another who will simply assert the workers pay and conditions at its own discretion.

The argument that the unions are making is that what is taking place is a transmission of business manoeuvre, where a workforce is passed from one company to another to force new conditions on employees — like cutting their pay, or stripping their conditions — to improve the corporation’s bottom line.

Workers and their supporters are protesting at the gates of the CUB plant from 6am to 6pm Monday to Friday. Visit the protest at Southampton Crescent, Abbotsford.



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