Bottle shops are overflowing with product after a boycott of some of Australia’s most popular alcoholic brands gathered further momentum over the AFL and NRL grand final weekend.
Consumers are being implored to avoid drinks produced by Carlton & United Breweries (CUB) in solidarity with 55 of the company’s Melbourne-based workers, who were made redundant in July.
The same workers were invited to reapply for 42 positions at CUB through a different labour hire company, but faced pay cuts of up to 65 per cent, the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) says. CUB denies the cuts are so high.
A protest last month generated attention, but it was a clever social media campaign that urged consumers to #BoycottCUB over grand final weekend that caught Australia’s interest.
— Kara Keys (@karak525) October 2, 2016
And staff members at several bottle shops across Melbourne confirmed on Monday that sales of CUB’s beverages, which include Carlton Draught, Victoria Bitter, Crown Lager, Fat Yak and Bulmers, were down in recent weeks.
“I only work at a small store, but we’ve noticed an impact [in sales of CUB products],” one employee told The New Daily.
“And I know people at bigger bottle shops and they have definitely felt the impact [of the boycott].
“I’m certainly sympathetic to the workers.”
The employee added that the boycott was a talking point among many of his customers.
“Customers are coming in and talking about it when they buy their drinks,” he added.
“People are definitely aware of what’s going on.”
— Australian Unions (@unionsaustralia) October 2, 2016
Staff members at other bottle shops confirmed the drop in sales.
One said they had endured a “quieter Saturday of beer sales than normal” and another acknowledged sales on CUB products had been “slightly down over the last few weeks”.
‘Australians want to send a message’
ACTU secretary Dave Oliver hailed the boycott and said that it showed consumers would not stand for “sham” processes.
“The success of the consumer boycott of CUB products shows Australians want to send a message to CUB and make it clear that we will not tolerate companies who use a sham process to slash wages, not because they need to, but simply because they think they can get away with it,” Mr Oliver told The New Daily.
“CUB is an extremely profitable company, and these workers are the people who generate that profit.
“They should be rewarded for the value they represent to their employer, not forced to give up 65 per cent of their pay to keep their jobs.
“People realise that the situation at CUB is outrageous, but they are also seeing it happen in more and more workplaces.
“Exploitation of workers through the use of labour hire companies and sham contracting is a deeply worrying trend.
“That is why Australians have been leaving CUB products on the shelf.”
CUB slammed for ‘sickening’ staff treatment
Sarah Parkinson was one of many Australians who shared messages on social media over the weekend that urged consumers to refrain from drinking CUB products.
She said she was moved to post on the issue – and boycott the company’s drinks – after hearing of the treatment CUB workers faced.
“If someone had fired my parents and offered to take them back on a reduced wage, we would have really struggled,” she told The New Daily.
“I find the idea of a company, who make a profit of $1 million a week, having the power to dictate individual’s wages through manipulation and scare tactics quite sickening.
“My friends and I are disgusted.
“I am not going to support such appalling [staff] treatment by an enormous company. After all, there are plenty of other brands we can choose from.”
Ms Parkinson added that those wishing to join her in boycotting CUB products should be aware of just how many popular brands fall under the company’s umbrella.
CUB did not respond to requests for comment.