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CUB55 Beer Workers Win Fair Deal, So You Can Start Drinking VB Again

'No matter how strong a multinational corp, we can fight them. And win'.

07/12/2016 12:00 PM AEDT | Updated 07/12/2016 1:09 PM AEDT
Electrical Trades Union of Australia/Facebook
The CUB55 workers celebrate after agreeing to a new deal

The long-running CUB55 brewery workers saga has been resolved with the sacked workers returning to work on "fair and decent" conditions in what their unions are calling an "unqualified success".

Carlton and United Breweries fired 55 workers -- reportedly the entire maintenance workforce at Abbottsford, Melbourne's biggest brewery -- in June, before inviting them to reapply for their old jobs on what the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union said was a "take-it-or-leave-it non-union deal with a 65 per cent reduction in monetary entitlements and cuts to most of their hard-won conditions."

CUB brews some of Australia's most popular beers including Victoria Bitter, Carlton and Pure Blonde, with unions around the country spearheading a campaign calling for a boycott of those beers. The sacked workers have held a picket line outside the facility ever since, hundreds of workers went on strike, beer production fell, and a company contracted to provide temporary workers soon withdrew their employees.

On Wednesday, six months on from their sacking, the unions proclaimed a victory, announcing that the sacked workers would be returning to work and that "all of their demands" had been met.

The Huffington Post Australia understands all sacked workers will be allowed to return to work and will be on the same pay and conditions as before they were let go. We've contacted CUB for more information.

Australian Council of Trade Unions secretary Dave Oliver called it a "historic win for the union movement and all our supporters" and said the campaign had been an "unqualified success".

"These 55 workers have been out on the street for nearly 180 days standing up for the rights of all workers, they will walk back into work on Monday morning with their jobs secure at their full pay and conditions," he said.

"We are glad to finally be able to end the boycott on CUB products, which are once again proudly union made at Abbottsford. I'm sure that with Christmas and New Year right around the corner our members and supporters will be relieved to hear that CUB is back on the menu."

Oliver also called for the federal government to tighten workplace laws to avoid similar situations in future.

"We call on the Turnbull government to introduce changes to labour hire and subcontracting laws so that no other workers have to go through what the CUB 55 have been forced to endure," he said.

Craig Kelly, the AMWU's assistant state secretary,

"They're just ecstatic. They're dedicated to the work they do, proud of the work they do. Them being terminated in the way they were, it was injustice. They go back on their original jobs, the same pay and conditions, in a secure employment status," he told HuffPost Australia.

"Now on six months, this cornerstone dispute has galvanised the entire union movement. What an amazing win it is."

"The production capacity will lift now, they have the experienced staff again. They had inexperienced people, they nearly halved their capacity. It's alright to start drinking CUB beer again."

The Electrical Trades Union and AMWU said in a joint release that the workers had agreed to productivity changes.

"As part of the agreement, all picketing workers have been invited to return to work at their previous positions at the Abbotsford brewery on fair and decent union terms and conditions, which provide job security to the workers," the unions said.

"All parties agreed to productivity and efficiency improvements that will be implemented at the brewery. CUB and the Unions have mapped out a better approach based on mutual respect, productivity and a shared passion to make the best beers with the best skilled workers."

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