Workers strike at AB InBev factory, Korea

The IUF-affiliated KCTWU Oriental Brewery (OB) Union Chapter has been in collectively bargaining with the Oriental Brewery, owned by AB InBev, since December 2015. The company has shown no willingness to respond seriously to the union’s demands to recognize that OB’s success delivering continuous growth despite the global and local economic recession is in large part due to the effort of the OB workers that the union represents. On August 16, members of the KCTWU OB Union Chapter went on strike following a break down in collective bargaining. All union members came together at Cheongju Plant and have been staying at the factory to continue their round the clock strike. OB Labor Union (FKTU-Chemical) representing production workers at both Icheon and Gwangju plants also took joint strike action.

Workers of OB face decreased disposable income as the company continues to focus on a Zero- Based Budgeting (ZBB) policy that leaves workers deeply frustrated and de-motivated. This frustration led to a first warning strike on June 24, 2016. Since then, the company has continued to refuse to recognize the workers’ contribution to the growth of the company in Korea. Faced with this situation, the union engaged in a second warning strike on July 20 and also notified the company of potential full-fledged strike action in the second week of August.

In addition the CBA negotiations in 2014 allowed both parties in OB to build a consensus on the improvement of in-house irregular workers’ conditions based on the judgement by Cheongju Regional Labor Relations Commission under the Ministry of Employment and Labor stating that both parties in OB shall make efforts to improve the working conditions of irregular workers and on mutual growth with OB's business partners. Since then, the union has been demanding the implementation of this declaration which would mean securing those irregular workers’ jobs, improving their working conditions, and ceasing multilevel subcontracting that has such an adverse impact on those workers and on local business operations.

The IUF supports the union’s assertion that ending the exploitative use of multilevel subcontracting and agreeing direct contracts with truck drivers for logistics as well as insourcing the outsourced forklift drivers will have a positive impact on the company’s Korean business.

The IUF wrote to the AB InBev CEO and urged the company to exert whatever pressure is necessary on local management to ensure they enter into good faith negotiations with the union and make every effort to reach an agreement guaranteeing workers’ disposable income, stopping multilevel subcontracting practice and improving the security of irregular workers.