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Foster's Yatala Campaign Ends - For Now - With Union Rights Agreement but Without Union CBA

Posted to the IUF website 30-May-2008

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Unions organizing workers at the Yatala brewery in Queensland, Australia, owned by global drinks company Foster's have secured a union rights agreement following the company's continued refusal to negotiate a union collective agreement . Since last July, Foster's refused to recognize and engage in negotiations with the Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Union (LHMU), the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) � both IUF affiliates - and the Electrical Trades Union (ETU), jointly representing a majority of Yatala workers. Making full use of the Howard government's strong anti-union legislation, Foster's sought to impose a non-union contract which would exclude unions from contract negotiations, deny their right to represent workers in grievances and maintain a wage differential as high as 35% in certain categories with unionized Australian breweries - including Foster's other Australian plant.

The unions fought back energetically with a series of work stoppages, demonstrations and community mobilizations, three times rejecting the company's non-union contract offers. IUF affiliates and union rights supporters around the world responded to our appeal for solidarity and support through protest messages to Foster's management.

After nine months, the Yatala workers voted by a small majority to accept a non-union agreement - however one which contains a union rights clause which guarantees union access to the workplace. The agreement is up for renegotiation in 18 months, and the unions have declared it a priority to secure a new collective agreement based on union rights and recognition.