Danish Brewery (Carlsberg) workers strike for beer rights, 2010

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Timing
Time Period:  
April 7,
2010
to
April 12,
2010
Location and Goals
Country: 
Denmark
Location City/State/Province: 
Copenhagen
Location Description: 
Various Carlsberg warehouses
Goals: 
The strikers were protesting Carlsberg management’s new policy that limited employees to drink one bottle of beer per day, removing beer from refrigerators located around the work sites. The employees also demanded that they be included in the bargaining process and agreement around such a new policy.
 

Ranked as the world’s fourth best brewer, Carlsberg Brewery held a 163-year-old tradition that its workers could enjoy free beer from refrigerators located around work sites throughout the day. Typical workers consumed three bottles of beer a day, excluding those consumed during lunch hours. The only restriction was “that you could not be drunk at work. It was up to each and every one to be responsible.”

Carlsberg had previously tried to end the right to three bottles a day for drivers but failed in 2005. Carlsberg Brewery workers walked off the job in protest for the right to drink their product while working. As a result, the company installed alcohol locks in all company trucks so that it would not start if a driver registered an alcohol blood level of more than the legal 0.05%.

On April 1, 2010, Carlsberg management announced a new workplace alcohol policy that limited employees to one bottle of beer per day, and the workers could only drink beer during their lunch breaks. The company removed beer from all refrigerators work sites while leaving soft drinks and water in the refrigerators. Drivers retained their historical rights to take away three bottles of beer at lunchtime, for they were often not at the canteens to have meals with the warehouse workers.

On Wednesday, April 7, 2010, approximately 800 warehouse workers went on strike to retain their right to drink beer. Michael Christiansen represented the striking workers union. On the following day, about 250 workers walked off their jobs. Even though the beer delivery workers were exempt from the new rules, for they did not often eat lunch at the canteens. More than 50 delivery drivers joined the strike in solidarity with their co-workers. This resulted in interruptions to beer transports in and around Copenhagen. The striking workers said that the strike was not just about the ban on beer consumption, but also about the company’s management violating the bargaining agreement by making a policy change without the employees’ input. The workers said they were willing to negotiate the amount of beer consumption,

Over the weekend, the workers agreed with Carlsberg management that they would meet very soon to find a temporary solution while waiting for a legal settlement on the matter. After five days, the strikers agreed to end the strike and to go back to work on the following Monday (April 12).

Afterwards, Carlsberg management team and employee representatives held a meeting discussing the policy of limited beer consumption at work site. The brewery company, however, did not withdraw the new policy.

Research Notes
Influences: 

Carlsberg previously tried to end the right to three bottles a day for drivers but failed in 2005. Carlsberg Brewery workers walked off the job in protest for the right to drink their product while working. As a result, the company installed alcohol locks in all company trucks so that it would not start if a driver registered an alcohol blood level of more than the legal 0.05%. (1)

In May 2010, Carlsberg Brewery employees held another strike, demanding wage increases (2)

Sources: 
Dangel, Benjamin. April 14, 2010. Counterpunch. The Carlsberg Strike “We Need Our Beer!” http://www.counterpunch.org/dangl04142010.html.

Charter, David. April 10, 2010. The Times. “If Carlsberg did strikes…workers walk out over drinking ban.” http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/europe/article7092767.ece#cid=OTC-RSS&attr=797093.

St. Louis Globe-Democrat. April 11, 2010. “Brewer revokes free beer, workers walk out.” http://www.globe-democrat.com/news/2010/apr/11/brewer-revokes-free-beer-workers-walk-out/.

The Associated Press. April 12, 2010. “Carlsberg workers end workplace drinking strike.” http://www.businessweek.com/ap/financialnews/D9F1L1D00.htm

The Associated Press. April 9, 2010. “Ban on drinking while working? Beer workers strike.” http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2011561966_beerstrike09.html?syndication=rss.

Name of researcher, and date dd/mm/yyyy: 
Jeewon Kim, 09/12/2010