In a bastard act reminiscent of the Patrick waterfront dispute, Carlton & United Breweries (CUB) unilaterally sacked 55 maintenance workers at its Abbotsford plant in late June.
This is an attempt to get rid of well-paid union members and replace them with cheap non-union labour. CUB, now controlled by the multinational conglomerate SABMiller, offered the workers their jobs back only if they would accept a 65% reduction in their pay.
This is while CUB makes profits of $258 million and SABMiller made a profit of $4.4 billion! The outgoing CEO Allan Clarke stands to get $62.5 million in bonuses and termination payments following a corporate takeover. The workers unanimously refused the company’s insulting offer and a protest has been set up outside the brewery gates.
These types of attacks on pay and conditions are escalating as greedy bosses strive to protect their profits in the face of a moribund economic system. It is imperative that workers unite to oppose these moves because, as one sacked worker said, “If this happens here it can happen elsewhere”.
Experience tells us that it is impossible to fight these attacks in isolated pockets. The entire trade union movement should mobilise to support the CUB workers, and other workers associated with the plant should strike in solidarity.
By Michael Naismith