Brewery workers show what 'full strength' really means

Brewery workers show what 'full strength' really means

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.

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