by Adam Carlton
Close to a hundred workers at the XXXX plant at Milton in Brisbane plan to walk off the job over job security and threats to lower working conditions.
About 40 jobs have been lost in recent years already, and Damien Davie, spokesperson for United Voice Queensland the union that represents these workers, said that company management needed to talk, otherwise disruption to beer supplies for the Commonwealth Games will come about.
“We want everyone to be able to drink XXXX while they’re enjoying the Commonwealth Games,” he said.
“But management needs to come to the table, or they’ll risk disrupting beer supply at this important time.”
The walk off the job is expected to take place next Monday.
Tensions have been building for some time, and the turn towards industrial action is no surprise. Lion, the company that owns the brewery has for several years been trying to outsource labour. Rather than employ workers directly, is opting to push in a system where a labour hire company supplies a casual workforce.
By doing this, agreed wages and conditions can be undercut, and the prerogative of management to hire and fire at will extended.
Damien Davies explained that “XXXX management is threatening to shut down our legendary Milton brewery, if they don’t get their way on shipping in cheap labour from over the border.”
It this is true, Lion is determined to bring on the change, and the workers and their union are pushed into a major battle against it.
Lion claims that the union has been lying. It does however admit to be pursuing more flexibility in the use of labour, and the use of contractors “when required.”
It is obvious that the Commonwealth Games is a strategically good time for this workforce to engage in industrial action, and to take advantage of it maximises their bargaining strength.
Like other similar disputes, it is a mixture of existing industrial laws and more militant employers, urged on by the major employer organisations and government that has given rise to the situation.
The position of wage earners has been deteriorating in Australia, while corporations have been able to skim billions of dollars. Raising the pace of work, while decreasing the reward for doing it, is stepped up exploitation.
Nothing is more geared to raise the anger of the workforce. This is what has happened at XXXX.
These workers have an advantage, If this turns out to be an ongoing dispute, they are in a good position to gain the sympathy of the public. This would cost Lion heavily, in terms of reputation and lost business. It is what Carton and United Breweries in Melbourne found two years ago.