Beer production halts as CUB Abbotsford brewery staff halt work

Electricians and fitters lost their jobs after the CUB terminated a long-term maintenance contract.Credit:Eddie Jim

Brewery workers have reported a “significant increase” in equipment breakdowns since maintenance workers were laid off and replaced with temporary workers.

The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union, which covers forklift drivers at the brewery, said workers were right to be alarmed at the impact on site safety.

“By laying off these 55 maintenance workers, CUB has set aside more than 900 years of collective skill and experience,” said union safety officer Gerry Ayers.

“When big companies put profit before safety, too often the consequences are tragic.”

Union officials said Thursday’s work stoppage included 200 day and afternoon workers, and estimated around 20,000 fewer slabs would be produced for the day.

United Voice, representing the majority of employees, issued warnings of “escalation of action” if management refuses to resolve the dispute: “[CUB owner] SAB Miller’s disregard for its longtime maintenance staff has angered our members that their own jobs and safety may be at risk because their new maintenance workers simply do not have the skills and experience. necessary to keep the brewery running safely and smoothly.”

A CUB spokeswoman said Thursday that the brewery was still producing enough beer ahead of peak consumption times.

“The brewery is still producing what we, the organization, ask of it given that it’s still winter,” she said.

“We feel comfortable with our ability to continue producing ahead of the football finals.”

CUB has sought to cut costs at the heavily unionized Abbotsford brewery to make it more competitive, saying “generous terms negotiated over decades have resulted in what we consider to be an unsustainable situation”.

The brewery has suffered declining volumes over the past five years as more beer is produced at “more profitable locations” within CUB’s network.

The CUB spokeswoman said tradespeople who lost their jobs received severance pay from the old maintenance contractor, and the new contractor was using temporary staff until the positions were filled. be filled.

‘Qualified and competent maintenance contractors have been employed on site who have been properly inducted and are operating safely alongside the rest of our workforce,’ she said.

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