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CUB55 workers to return to work after union victory

7 December, 2016Australian unions are celebrating an historic victory that will see 55 maintenance workers at Carlton and United Breweries (CUB) return to work after a 180-day dispute.

IndustriALL affiliate, the Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union (AMWU) and the Electrical Trade Union of Australia (ETU) announced on 7 December that they have reached agreement to immediately end the dispute with the maintenance workforce at the CUB Abbotsford brewery in Melbourne, Victoria.

Unions say that CUB has agreed to all their demands. The dispute arose after the maintenance workers were fired and told they would have to work for a new contractor, with a 65 per cent pay cut. The attack on the workers, who are members of AMWU and ETU, came ahead of the impending acquisition of Carlton United's parent company, SABMiller, by beverage multinational AB InBev.

More than a thousand IndustriALL members from around the world unanimously passed a resolution supporting the CUB 55 and a boycott of the company’s products at the IndustriALL 2nd Congress in Brazil in October.

Following the Congress resolution, IndustriALL’s general secretary, Valter Sanches, wrote to CUB calling on the brewery to reinstate the workers and respect labour rights, as well as solidarity letters to AMWU and ETU.

AMWU’s National President, Andrew Dettmer, told IndustriALL that international solidarity from global unions IndustriALL and IUF, as well as trade unions around the world was vital:  

“This victory had many contributors. For IndustriALL and the IUF, the 1600 plus messages of solidarity were crucial to maintaining the morale of the 55. Some of those messages of solidarity, and the solidarity actions taken against the owners, really brought home to those 55 union members, as well as their thousands of supporters, the importance of international unionism. 

“Just as good were those unions and federations, including IndustriALL, which wrote to SAB-Miller and AB InBev registering disgust at the actions of local management in sacking those 55 maintenance workers and then offering them their jobs back at 65 per cent less pay. 

“This reflected the urgency motion, which was so generously and unanimously supported by the IndustriALL 2nd Congress. 

“Australian drinkers (including many workers and trade unionists) can now get back to drinking their beer of choice!”

IndustriALL’s general secretary, Valter Sanches, said:

“The entire IndustriALL Global Union family congratulates AMWU and Australian unions on this great and significant victory. Not only is great show of union solidarity but huge credit must also go to the 55 workers and their families who held out for their demands and refused to be beaten.”