Owners and operators of pubs and bars across Australia are banding together and showing support for 55 workers who lost their jobs at Carlton & United Breweries (CUB) in June.
As reported by Fairfax, the maintenance workers, who were a mix of electricians and fitters, lost their jobs after CUB terminated a machine maintenance contract with employer Quant.
The workers were then offered their jobs back again under a Programmer, a different employer. However the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union claims that the pay offered is 65% lower after penalty rates and other entitlements, than the original pay for the positions.
This has led to outrage across the manufacturing sector, and the workers have been protesting outside the company’s Abbotsford brewery in Melbourne for the past month.
However, a spokesperson for CUB told SmartCompany the workers were given notice of the end of the contract and “it is not clear how the unions are calculating claims of a 65% cut in pay”.
“The roles offered by Programmed are paying between $70,000 to $120,000 before overtime,” the spokesperson said.
“With any change of contract, we understand our commercial decisions can impact people and their families, that’s why we gave six months’ notice of the end of the contract and those people were paid redundancies by their employer.”
In support of these workers a number of pubs across the country have boycotted selling CUB-produced beers. This includes beers such as Carlton Draught, Crown Lager, and the most popular beer in Australia, Victoria Bitter.
One of these pubs is the Queensland-based Grand Hotel Yamanto, which took to Facebook on Saturday to show its support for the sacked workers.
“We have currently taken Victoria Bitter Australia off our taps and won’t be selling any CUB products across our bars to show our support for the 55 workers that were sacked. Could you survive on 65% of the wage you’ll receive this week?” said the business.
Michael Falvey, administrator for the Grand Hotel Yamanto and whose parents own the pub, told SmartCompany that this sign of support isn’t “a political statement, and it isn’t about being pro or anti unions.”
“If you got sacked for the job you were doing competently, could you survive on 65 percent of your previous wage?” he says.
Taking the beers off tap has been mostly supported by patrons of the pub, says Falvey, but he notes that there are a few upset customers.
“When you take the number one beer off tap, there’s always someone who’s going to be upset. Most people have been good about it, and they all agree that what’s happening is wrong.”
Falvey would like to see more pubs get behind the boycott, but recognises that its simply not possible for many business owners.
“We’re a pub with a XXXX contract, so we have the ability to take beers like VB off tap. Some places are contracted, and despite how strongly they feel, they still have staff to pay,” Michael says.
“It’d be foolish to say that we’re doing this forever, but it is for an indefinite period of time.”
Other pubs have taken to Facebook to declare the boycott. This includes popular Melbourne bars The Lincoln and Kent Street Bar.
Many individual supporters of the workers have also taken to Facebook, using the business rating system to rate CUB one star, and express their support.
“Shame on you CUB! Sacking your loyal workers unceremoniously to bump an already healthy bottom line is a disgrace! I’ve got a full list of your products which I’ll now be boycotting until you re-instate the 55 workers,” said one commenter.
“Your treatment of your maintenance workers is disgraceful. I will not consume another CUB product until your sacked employees are treated fairly,” said another.