Public statement

Trade unions denounce lack of freedom of association at AB InBev

Trade unions denounce lack of freedom of association at AB InBev In a joint press release issued on July 7, the unions representing beer, water, soft drink, ale, and transportation workers demanded that the multinational brewery AB InBev of Peru comply with local laws and respect the workers’ freedom of association.
Photo: Luis Samán (personal file)

Unión de Cervecerías Peruanas Backus y Johnston S.A.A., Cervecería San Juan S.A., Trabajadores de Transporte 77 S.A. and Naviera Oriente S.A.C. are all Peruvian companies that had belonged to the multinational brewery group SABMiller since 2005.

This group was later acquired by the Belgian-Brazilian multinational corporation Anheuser-Busch InBev, in a package that also included Compañía Cervecera AmBev Perú S.A.C.

There are currently eight trade unions of workers, employees, sales personnel, and teamsters in each of the companies owned by the multinational corporation AB InBev in Peru. Six of them are meeting to discuss the possibility of forming a single union.

In a press release, the unions stress that the workers’ participation in the company’s profits is a constitutional right.

Despite that, since 2017 the multinational brewery formed two equity blocks and is systematically reducing both the workers’ profit sharing and the taxes it pays the state.

Outsourcing and attacks on freedom of association

AB InBev has been conducting personnel restructures ever since. It began by firing employees and administrative staff and then went on to lay off workers in operations and sales, calling them “voluntary resignations.”

Most of these jobs have been transferred to the Colombia and Mexico headquarters.

Moreover, with the implementation of a new equity block, the company fired some 410 telesales workers, thus distorting the use of labor outsourcing schemes.

To date, more than 50 sales employees are on leave with reduced pay and the company is systematically pressuring them to resign.

It should be noted that all the companies owned by the AB InBev have been enjoying good economic and financial health, but the corporation insists that the pandemic has affected its operations and finances.

The unions agreed to extend for one year the term of the collective bargaining agreements in force, foregoing increases in wages or associated benefits during that period in exchange for management not laying off any workers. But now the companies are seeking to extend that clause to 2021-2022.

In four years of operation, AB InBev has fired three union general secretaries (Luis Samán, José Gayoso, and José Leiva), as well as 15 workers at the northern plant in Motupe who were members of the Backus national workers’ union, for participating in a strike.

The corporation also filed a criminal action against trade union leaders who denounced management’s harassment and failure to comply with regulations in the context of the health emergency.