This year we could be in for a beerless AFL Grand Final, and not just because we left the booze shopping until 11am the day-of. Carlton United Brewery is waist-deep in a dispute with maintenance workers at their Abbotsford brewery, and it doesn’t look like it’s ending any time soon.
Electrical Trade Union organiser Steven Diston, who is involved in the dispute, claims that ‘less than half’ of the usual amount of beer is coming out the factory gate than before. ‘It’s going to be a dry Grand Final,’ he tells us. But worse than not being able to get a pint or a longneck, stable jobs and the working conditions we take for granted in Australia seem to be drying up too.
Just before the Queen’s Birthday weekend, 55 maintenance workers at CUB Abbotsford were rounded up and told they didn’t have jobs anymore, ending their contracts several weeks early. CUB had terminated their agreement with contactor Quant, and engaged a new maintenance service provider. The sacked electricians and fitters were given redundancies and told they had the opportunity to apply for jobs with the new provider.
The trouble was, Steven says, ‘they refused to tell us the actual employing entity or the EBA that the boys would be employed under’. The ETU took CUB to the Fair Work Commission and a week later they got their answers. Catalyst Recruitment (Programmed/Skilled Group) was the employing entity and what were they offering? ‘The award wage plus 50 cents,’ Steven says. It’s approximately 65 per cent less than what they’d previously been earning.
Originally published on Overland 16th August, 2016.