Fifty-five maintenance workers have successfully defended their wages and conditions after a long and successful union campaign.
In June this year Carlton & United Breweries (CUB), a subsidiary of the world’s largest brewer Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev), sought to have the workers’ wages significantly reduced. The workers refused to take the wage cut and instead set about campaigning with their unions, the Electrical Trades Union (ETU) and the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU).
The dispute was finally settled this week when CUB backed down and agreed to return the picketing workers to their original jobs at the plant on ‘fair and decent union terms and conditions’.
This positive resolution is the result of a well-coordinated and well-supported publicity campaign and boycott; it is the result of genuine solidarity and unity.
An off-the-shelf enterprise agreement negotiated in a highly questionable manner by the relevant labour hire contractor facilitated the move to reduce wages. The agreement was voted on and agreed to by just three casual employees in Perth in 2014 and then imposed on workers on the other side of the country.
“Certain employers are washing their hands of their responsibilities to their workers by inserting an unscrupulous third party into the employment relationship,” said VAHPA Secretary Craig McGregor.
“Some VAHPA members may not feel that this dispute is of relevance to them, but this assumption is wrong. In fact, the employment practices that led to this dispute are widespread and are creeping into health.”
“Members need to be on the lookout for poor employer behaviour such as sham contracting and attempts to outsource work,” concluded McGregor.
This is a great victory for workers and a blow for those seeking to opportunistically exploit and underpay them.
VAHPA is proud to have stood in solidarity with the ETU, AMWU and CUB55.