Beyond the pale of Peruvian law, SABMiller invents "The Anti-Union Inquisition"


Against a background of persecution, hostility and sackings, the Brewery Workers' Union of Backus and Johnstone SAA sign a three-year collective agreement with the subsidiary of the transnational SABMiller.

Antonio Silipu, president of the workers' bargaining committee told Sirel that the process was difficult due to the anti-union measures implemented by the company and the actions of the Ethics Committee, a kind of Inquisition court which punishes workers accused by their line managers of "serious misconduct".

According to the company, the Ethics Committee's function is to "ensure fair treatment of the workers" yet, curiously, it consists only of the factory manager, César Becerra, Luis José Jacobs, Backus Human Resources Manager, ex-regional labour director, and the Area Manager or Leader.

The Ethics Committee arbitrarily dismissed workers whose breath allegedly smelled of alcohol: "While the Bargaining Committee was away in the provinces, there were three dismissals. They made them blow repeatedly into the breathalyser and did not carry out a confirmatory test such as a blood or urine sample, and they were condemned to unemployment, cast out in the street.

The three workers sacked for allegedly having alcohol on their breath have now begun a legal action against the company, "and the Union has coordinated this because it is illegal dismissal since it did not follow the formal procedures laid down in Peruvian legislation", said Silipu.
The Ethics Committee is arbitrary and illegal, it is chiefly unionized workers who are subjected to "Disciplinary Hearings".

For Silipu, the Ethics Committee is arbitrary and illegal, and it is chiefly unionized workers who are subjected to "Disciplinary Hearings".

In this Committee, "there have been cases in which, despite not proving misconduct, the workers were still punished as if they were guilty", he said.

Referring to the collective bargaining, he said that SABMiller "delayed the process for almost eleven months; we were discussing point by point, and the dismissal of several workers during the bargaining process even went so far as to violate the principle of good faith. The process included the claims of the five centers making up our union: Cuzco, Arequipa, Lima, Motupe and Malteria, the latter having recently joined the union".

He said that the collective agreement signed in February had won a wage increase for workers in all the Backus breweries nationwide of 2.40 dollars per day in the first year and 2.7 dollars per day in the second and third years.

In addition, the Union also succeeded in having a catering concessionaire contracted, operating for all three shifts; 50 per cent of the cost of the food will be paid by the worker and the rest by the company.

Under the collective agreement, from 1 April this year, the productivity bonus paid to the workers in the Arequipa and Cuzco breweries is abolished, and in the case of the Motupe brewery workers, transferred from the Trujillo brewery, the company will pay their travel back to their homes in Trujillo, 296 kilometers south of Motupe.

The benefits also include workers' children, who are eligible for education grants which range from 407.40 to 666.66 dollars, and Backus will pay it for all educational levels.

En Lima, Julia Vicuña Yacarine, Rel-UITA