It’s been a game-changing year at Carlton and United Breweries’ Yatala site south of Brisbane.
The worksite started the year with low union membership, no delegate, and a company determined to diminish workers’ conditions.
While workers at CUB’s Abbotsford site in Victoria received a pay rise, the Yatala brewery had no intention of passing it on.
The bosses also wanted to establish a two-tiered pay system so all new employees got paid substantially less than current employees.
Deciding enough was enough, the handful of CUB Yatala members stoked up a site recruitment drive and within a year more than doubled union membership to 78 - with six taking on delegate responsibilities.
Now feeling the wind at their backs, the site membership took the company on over a range issues and secured some significant wins. These included a three-year enterprise bargaining agreement with an annual pay increase of 4%, and reinforced union delegates’ rights such as access to paid training.
The union’s heightened presence at the site even saw the company advertise for a HR manager with “experience in a unionised workplace”.
Union power is all about collective strength, and using strength in numbers.
A higher rate of union membership at any worksite makes it harder for the employer to ignore staff concerns - and this has certainly been the case at Yatala.