(Photo credit Jenneil Peters)

Brewery workers claim more job losses

Interior Brewery Workers Local 308 says that Labatt Breweries of Canada is manipulating data to justify the loss of jobs at Creston’s 50-year-old brewery.

Interior Brewery Workers Union Local 308 has issued a statement disputing Labatt Breweries of Canada’s claim that only six jobs will be lost with the impending closure of Columbia Brewery’s bottling line.

“This is devastating,” the statement says. “Officially 16 full time posted jobs will be eliminated, some of these jobs aren’t even related to the bottling line. Seems like the senior manager in the plant has chosen to take the required jobs plus some bonus ones to make him look good. We haven’t been told but roughly 8-10 staff jobs will be also lost.

“Keep in mind the negative impact on other jobs in the community, we will have less trucks coming and going from the brewery, this means less tires purchased, less fuel, less work done on these trucks etc. I’m assuming there might be up to 4-5 community jobs lost because of this.”

Amid the changes, IBW says that 12 new jobs have been posted, but only four are for full-time work and the others are seasonal, for five to eight months a year.

“The early retirement buyout offer to help mitigate the job loss isn’t worth the paper it’s written on. I won’t release the number but just trust me when I say this – no one will take it, it’s so low. The union sent a counter-proposal that would actually see employees retire early but it was refused by the company. We can only try so many times with a company that clearly has no respect for its workers.

“During this process, we’ve lost a lot of respect for the senior management team, they’ve been sending out mixed messages, wrong info, showing zero empathy towards the affected employees.”

The Union says that the decision to move all bottling to Edmonton is being justified by misleading numbers.

“People are asking us why Creston? Creston has always been a top performer in the company, in most years all Canadian breweries are chasing us for a top spot. In the past year head office has taken some key costs out of the formula on how they compare us to the Edmonton brewery and added high trucking costs into the mix. They’ve clearly made a decision to have the Edmonton brewery succeed over Creston.

“Note, over the past two contracts the Union members have taken reductions in benefits and very low wage increases to keep the Creston brewery competitive. With the decision of closing the bottling line, we see this as a slap in the face to the workers who have made this brewery successful over the past 50 years.

“We are very sad to see 50 years of bottling end in the Creston Valley.”

When the Advance first learned of the decision to close the Creston bottling line, local management refused to answer questions, referring them to a corporate spokesman in Calgary. IBW Local 308 president Craig Wood objected to that information but declined to speak on the record. This story provides information from IBW Local 308, not Craig Wood.

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