Meeting in the Croatian city of Dubrovnik, the IUF and its two main Belgian affiliates in the food and beverage sector, FGTB-HORVAL and CCAS-CSC, reached an agreement with representatives of the headquarters of Interbrew, the world’s second largest brewer. The agreement spelled out the conditions for a fair and just end to a long and painful strike at the company’s Trebjesa brewery in Niksic and guaranteed that the three hundred brewery workers would start receiving wages again from September 17.
The IUF delegation signing the agreement comprised IUF general secretary, Ron Oswald, FGTB-HORVAL president, Alfons de Mey, CCAS-CSC national officer, Bart Vannetelbosch and the IUF’s coordinator for South East Europe, Mato Lalic. Signing for the company were Beni Roos, Vice-President, Industrial Relations and Jos Duijsters, Human Resources Director for Eastern and Central Europe.
The striking workers massively endorsed the agreement at meetings on September 15 and the physical return to work took place on September 19. The IUF’s food workers affiliate in Montenegro and local management have now fully endorsed the agreement.
“This agreement ends a painful and damaging four-month strike for all concerned. It could not have been possible without the determined struggle mounted by our members in the brewery throughout that time. All parties have agreed not to dwell on recriminations but rather to look to the future. The agreement provides a fair and just basis for members of the IUF’s affiliate to resume work, recognizes and protects their rights to union representation and collective bargaining rights and protects net wages against both inflation and 2002 tax increases. Interbrew’s local management’s effort to undermine and deny these rights has come to nothing and the company has guaranteed that they will honour the agreement in its entirety,” commented the IUF general secretary.
Oswald went on to say, “This agreement is a victory for fairness and common sense. Our members want to work and want to be part of a successful company. But they want to do so with dignity, with justice and with fair treatment and this agreement provides the foundation for just that. I appreciate the constructive and good faith efforts made by Interbrew negotiators during two long and difficult days of talks in Dubrovnik. I also thank our two Belgian affiliates for their total support throughout these negotiations. Their presence added critically to our ability to arrive at an agreement we can all be pleased and even proud of.”