CUB are owned by SAB Miller, the world's second largest brewer (Profit AUD$4 billion), and in the process of merging with Anheuser-Busch InBev (profit AUD$13 billion). The replacement workers are under contract at 65% lower wages, once the TPP comes in they can sack even those scabs and replace them with imported Vietnamese contract labour at $5 an hour, paid into their Vietnamese bank accounts according to Vietnamese wage rates.
SMH, full link below: Beer giant Carlton and United Breweries has sacked the entire maintenance workforce at Melbourne's biggest brewery, prompting threats of a boycott of the popular VB.
CUB's Abbotsford plant makes some of the nation's best-selling beer brands, including Carlton Draught, Carlton Dry, VB, Crown Lager and Pure Blonde, as well as Mercury and Strongbow ciders.
The 54 workers were laid off last month before being invited to reapply for their old jobs on individual contracts, for what they say would be a 65 per cent wage cut once penalty rates and other entitlements were factored in.
The brewery is having non-union replacement labour bussed in and out of the site every day past picketing workers.
Brewery insiders have told Fairfax Media that beer production has taken a heavy hit since the layoffs, dropping by tens of thousands of slabs a week.
Some social media users have responded angrily to the sackings on the popular VB Facebook page, which has a following of 111,440 people.
"Start looking after the people that made you great – sacking your workers and offering them back their jobs with less pay, disgusting," one user said.
"I won't be buying a VB slab this weekend, guaranteed."
Another wrote: "Give your workers a fair go or we'll stop drinking your beer. See how much money that saves you."
Former brewery machine specialist Chris Brown said he and his co-workers felt like they had been "thrown to the dogs" by CUB.
"There are guys with newborns, expectant partners, people now struggling to pay doctors' bills, and there are three apprentices who were almost finished who have not even been taken into account."
"We've been thrown out to the coldest, wettest Melbourne winter in five years ... it's been a real shock and we have been going through all the emotional stages."
A source inside the Abbotsford plant said the site's ordinary production output had slowed by at least 35 per cent since the sackings.
"From the end of this month on, it's the busiest period of the year. There's the footy finals, then Christmas, then summer," the source said.
"I think CUB is going to get a really expensive lesson on the value of its labour force."
Internal CUB documents show a significant slump in manufacturing. Machine line efficiency data reveals a sharp deterioration in run times since the maintenance workers were sacked and replaced.
CUB would not comment on the impact of the sackings on beer and cider production volumes so far, but said supplies had not been affected.
A CUB spokeswoman said the tradesmen who lost their jobs had been paid out redundancy entitlements by the previous maintenance contractor.
She said CUB's new contractor, Programmed, was advertising the jobs with pay rates that were "market-competitive and above-award", but was using temporary labour hire staff until the positions are filled.
"Programmed are using temporary labour hire until full-time roles are filled ... those people have been bussed in to ensure they can reach the site safely," the spokeswoman said.
"Some people filling temporary labour hire roles were approached by unknown people in the car park on their first day."
Electrical Trades Union state secretary Troy Gray said the sacked CUB staff, who were experienced in the brewery's highly complicated and unique machinery, were among the most skilled tradesmen in Melbourne.
"Those 50 workers ... have been working seven days a week, night and day, so the average punter out there can have a nice cold beer after a hard day's work, that's the way it should be," he said.
"Four weeks ago, [CUB] comes out and says you are all sacked on the spot – with all the arrogance of the big end of town – and said here's your cab charges, go to your new boss, it's a 65 per cent wage decrease."