The number of people enjoying Grand Final barbecues this weekend without the tainted taste of CUB beer looks set to exceed the crowds filling the stadiums at both the AFL and NRL deciders.
On GF eve, over 8000 supporters have registered their CUB-free barbecues on the Australian Unions website, as a show of solidarity with 55 workers unjustly deprived of their brewery jobs.
Grand Final barby fever (below): our CUB members enjoyed a pre-GF footy barbecue outside the Abbotsford brewery this week, without a drop of the beer they normally help produce and consume.
Production at CUB’s main Abbotsford brewery is way behind the play without the expert fitters and electricians, recently sinking as low as 180,000 slabs per week compared with a normal 1.1 million.
“This is a Grand Final where people have made it clear they are happy to do without Carlton, without VB, Pure Blonde or any other CUB product and it’s still not too late to register your barby,” said AMWU delegate Chris Brown.
“We appreciate the support and the powerful message it sends to CUB, that everyone will enjoy a steak, a snag and watching the game over a drink which isn’t made by this anti-worker multinational.”
The 55 maintenance workers have been jobless since June when CUB changed contractors, which meant they were sacked then offered their jobs back on inferior wages.
CUB’s main warehouse in Melbourne’s west is reported to be emptying of product made at its Abbotsford brewery, with much of the packaged CUB beer supply to Victoria now brewed at Yatala in Queensland.
Last week AMWU members joined action by Queensland Unions, where 10 groups visited about 30 suburban liquor outlets in Brisbane to tell consumers about the CUB sackings.
“There’s a lot of empathy up here with the Victorian CUB workers, we got some great feedback from shoppers - some said, ‘my goodness, is that still happening?’,” said AMWU officer Marion Lister.
“Nearly everyone was good, took a leaflet and guys liked the stubby holders.”
CUB’s management are already facing their own “elimination final”, with the company’s multinational owner SABMiller officially being taken over next week by the world’s biggest brewer Anheuser-Busch InBev.
Decision-making at CUB is in a tense holding pattern as some senior executives appointed by SAB Miller for CUB and Asia-Pacific have already left their positions – or will do so soon.
CUB’s contractor Programmed is also due to finish at the brewery this week, after its deal with CUB fell apart when its non-union maintenance crews failed to fix equipment and keep production levels up.