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Canada: Striking AB InBev workers in St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador campaign for boycott against Labatt products

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NAPE (Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Public and Private Employees) Local 7004 in Newfoundland and Labrador is calling for a boycott of all Labatt beer products as a strike at its St. John's brewery drags on.

Labatt is owned by the world's largest brewer, Anheuser-Busch InBev. The products on the boycott list range from Budweiser and Alexander Keith's, to Becks and Stella Artois.

About 50 employees have been walking the picket line for 13 weeks. The workers are fighting for a fair collective agreement while Labatt is looking for big concessions. AB InBev has given workers no option but to fight against the elimination of rights ranging from unlimited temporary employees receiving no benefits to existing members having to help pay for medical and dental benefits for the first time.

AB InBev's impositions for the new collective bargaining agreement include the introduction of a two level wage system where two workers doing the same job are making as much as $9.00 Cdn. an hour difference in pay. As a consequence, the worker making less money will never have the chance to make the same wage as the older worker. Furthermore a performance-based wage scale is imposed on workers, which would effectively replace wage bargaining rights with arbitrary individual wage increases based on the goals solely set by the employer, with no input from the union.

At a news conference on June 7, NAPE and the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour officially launched a boycott in that province. The boycott includes an ad campaign that calls on people to not buy Labatt products or anything linked to its parent company. Since then, NAPE's national sister union, the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE), representing over 340,000 workers across Canada, passed a resolution at their national Triennial Convention on June 16 calling on its members to support the boycott.

Workers and supporters of the boycott have been holding information pickets at numerous locations in St. John's, NL every day since the launch of the boycott  asking the public for their support. The boycott campaign also consists of radio, web, and print ads. The reaction from the public has been very positive. The campaign's tagline is "Labatt's position is a cold one."

Further details regarding the boycott, including the associated public relations campaign materials, can be found at http://www.nape.nf.ca/

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