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Foster's denies union collective agreement to Yatala workers in Australia

Posted to the IUF website 16-Aug-2007

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Foster's is refusing to negotiate a union collective agreement with more than 280 workers at its Yatala brewery, south of Brisbane, Australia. Despite overwhelming worker support in favour of union representation in the negotiation of a new collective agreement, Foster's insistence on a non-union agreement has halted negotiations since last month.

A clear majority of Yatala workers are represented by the Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Union (LHMU), the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) – both IUF affiliates - and by the Electrical Trades Union (ETU). But Foster's is openly denying their fundamental human right to be represented by unions. Foster's refusal to respect workers’ rights was exemplified by Yatala Human Resource manager John Saliba, who said: "even if there was 200 percent support for a union collective agreement there would never be a union collective agreement on the Yatala site".

The company has demanded workers vote to accept the non-union agreement that pays as much as 35 percent less than at other breweries with union agreements. Under Australia’s new regressive federal labour laws such a non-union agreement excludes union representation in worker grievances and severely circumscribes union access to the workplace.


LHMU's Michael de Brenni explains the Yatala workers' struggle.

Workers and their unions reacted by launching a campaign that demands Foster's respect the right to a union-agreement. The campaign is earning extensive support through rallies, community activism, petitions in pubs selling Foster's beers and solidarity support from other unions with representation in Foster's in Australia and worldwide.

LHMU State Secretary Ron Monaghan commented "Foster's are arrogantly ignoring their Yatala employees. So much for John Howard's Work Choices. Only bosses get to choose under Howard's IR laws".