The Opposition, in the backdrop of yesterday’s Carlton & United Breweries (CUB) protest, is pushing for a Senate inquiry into the use of legal loopholes to cut workers’ pay and conditions.
The SMH reports that Labor already has the support of the Greens and crossbench senator Jacqui Lambie for the inquiry, and will need just the support of either the Xenophon or One Nation parties for the motion to be carried.
As 9News.com.au reports, about 3,000 people took part in yesterday’s march which started at AFL House and moved through city streets to Parliament House.
Given that CUB is a major sponsor of the AFL, protestors were calling for a “CUB beer-free footy finals season” as part of their protest.
More broadly, the industrial action stems from June when a group of 55 maintenance workers at CUB’s Abbotsford brewery were told that their jobs had been re-contracted to a new service subcontractor, Programmed-Skilled Maintenance, and that they would have to reapply to keep them.
However, the new contracts did not include the conditions of the previous contracts and involved pay cuts of up to 65 per cent. They refused and now find themselves unemployed.
Victoria’s Industrial Relations Minister Natalie Hutchins addressed the rally on the steps of Parliament House.
She warned CUB of brand damage and said the Andrews Government preferred a “co-operative approach” on industrial relations.
“I know CUB say these technicians and workforce in that area are not theirs, but I also know CUB can’t produce beer without them,” she said.
“To let this company get away with what they’ve done to these workers would be a travesty, a (travesty) for people not to be able to stand up and have their say.”
According to the Herald Sun, State Opposition Leader Matthew Guy slammed Hutchins’ presence at the rally.
“This is Victoria under Daniel Andrews where the Industrial Relations Minister picks sides rather than mediating and solving disputes,” Guy said.
“The Andrews Labor Government is so fractured that even a supposedly impartial minister will take sides in an industrial relations dispute just so they can build a union power base.”
CUB spokeswoman Jennifer Howard claimed no workers had been sacked and said that all had received their full entitlements, including redundancy payments, and that the new roles offered salaries of $70,000 – $120,000, before overtime.
“CUB has not employed maintenance workers since 2009 and we changed providers this year,” she said.
“Anyone losing their job is not an issue to be taken lightly — that’s why the former contractor and their people were given six months’ notice of the end of the contract and people were paid redundancies by their employer.”