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USU under fire from student groups over CUB contract offer

The University of Sydney Union Board has come under fire from student political factions on campus over its consideration of a deal that would see all taps at USU outlets replaced with products from Carlton and United Breweries (CUB). The students’ objections stem from the sacking of 55 workers at the company’s Abbotsford brewery in…

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The University of Sydney Union Board has come under fire from student political factions on campus over its consideration of a deal that would see all taps at USU outlets replaced with products from Carlton and United Breweries (CUB).

The students’ objections stem from the sacking of 55 workers at the company’s Abbotsford brewery in Melbourne last month, who were immediately invited to reapply for their jobs with an effective 65 per cent wage cut.

The Australian Manufacturing Workers Union and other unions joined sacked workers in establishing a picket line at the brewery, which still stands. Currently, taps in all USU outlets are stocked with products from Lion, CUB’s main competitor.

CUB is reported to be offering the USU $50,000 to exclusively stock their lineup of beverages, which includes the Carlton, Peroni and Strongbow brands.

The deal was discussed at Friday’s monthly Board meeting, but only behind closed doors, drawing the ire of those students in attendance.

“There’s been a lot of talk about transparency within the Union over the last couple of years and this just proves that there’s been very, very little done to rectify this issue,” said National Union of Students NSW branch president Michael Elliott, who asked the Board about the matter during question time. “We should be providing solidarity with the workers who’ve been sacked instead of considering taking money from the corporation that has ruined peoples’ lives.”

The Board did not come to a final resolution, with USU President Michael Rees saying further discussion of the matter was needed.

“We owe it to our members to ensure that we make the best decisions on their behalf and, as directors, this precludes us from discussing these matters publicly. Suffice to say, however, that the USU Board acknowledges the student concern with regards to industrial action at CUB and this will be raised in our confidential discussions”, he said.

An online petition calling for the USU to boycott CUB has amassed 650 signatures since it was created last week.