Queensland-NT Secretary Rohan Webb brought sunshine and a massive boost in confidence to dismissed CUB workers in Melbourne today when he assured them unionists in northern Australia stood “shoulder to shoulder” with them.
Mr Webb received a welcoming cheer from dozens of sacked maintenance workers - and hundreds of supporters - when said that 360,000 Queensland unionists backed their fight for reinstatement on full wages at CUB’s Melbourne plant.
“Your struggle is our struggle,” said Mr Webb, speaking to a weekly rally from a union “tower of power” scaffold outside CUB’s Abbotsford brewery.
“I stand proudly as a Queenslander, on behalf of the Queensland trade union movement, to tell you we’ll all stand with you.”
Mr Webb, also Honourary President of the Queensland Council of Unions, was invited to Melbourne by AMWU Victorian State Secretary Steve Dargavel.
Mr Webb said donations had poured in from Queensland workers at coal mines, construction sites, factories and pubs to ensure the Victorian workers sacked by CUB’s new labour hire company could get their jobs back on full pay.
“Why is that? Because they know they are next,” he said, echoing the worry about the impact of labour hire contractors under big employers driving down employee conditions Australia-wide.
“How can this happen in a fair society? Coalition Governments facilitate this and they should hang their heads in shame, they’ve bowed to the big end of town.”
He said the attack on workers conditions and EBAs seen by miners at Collie in WA, Aurizon in Queensland and CUB in Victoria showed the urgent need for reform of industrial law.
He told them of our members in Queensland getting out at NRL and AFL matches to deliver the anti-CUB message, protesting outside the brewer’s Brisbane headquarters.
It is now 10 weeks since CUB changed its labour hire contractor, with the old contractor sacking 55 fitters and electricians and the new contractor Programmed telling them they would have to work for up to 65 per cent less if they wanted their brewery jobs back.
The AMWU and ETU members have manned a community protest outside the brewery since, with all trade unions and community getting behind their fight for re-instatement and fair pay.
“Week 10 of this dispute is hard, we understand your pain and your concern,” Mr Webb said.
“But remember this, the Australian trade union movement with Queensland trade unions is fully behind you.”
Mr Webb’s rev-up came after a different, less-friendly “visitor” from outside Victoria was revealed to the crowd: “Scabby the rat.”
The blow-up plastic rhodent who has been a feature of American union campaigns since 1990 was unveiled outside the brewery – big, bad, ugly, mean and ready to join CUB to take the jobs of the 55 sacked workers.
Mr Webb said the resolve of our members CUB’s Yatala brewery to get a fair deal in EBA negotiations had been made stronger by knowing what the multinational was doing to their Melbourne colleagues.
And knowledge of the disgraceful conduct of CUB was spreading across northern Queensland-NT pubs and bars via social media and word-of-mouth, with drinkers turning away from CUB beers.
“Now they know Great Northern is really done by CUB down in Yatala so there’s a lot of people gone off that,” he said. “And Victorians working up north have said no to VB, now they’re switching to XXXX.”