Belgian beer blockade lifted

25th January 2010, Comments 0 comments

A blockade that threatened to strangle supplies of top Belgian beers to home and neighbouring European markets has ended, after management and unions said a compromise was reached.

BRUSSELS - Two weeks after workers first barricaded Stella Artois, Jupiler and Hoegaarden breweries, in protest at owners Anheuser-Busch InBev's plans to cut 10 percent of its European workforce, drinkers can breathe easier.

"After the blockade is lifted, the unions and management will start from scratch with meetings of the works council that will deal with problems site by site," union representative Tangui Cornu told AFP.

The protest action began after the group announced on January 7 that it planned to cut around 800 jobs in western Europe. In Belgium, 263 of the 2,700 jobs at AB InBev, the world's biggest brewer, were slated to go.

The action achieved its initial goals, leading to shortages in large supermarkets -- and a spike in guerrilla sales tactics from rival brewers.

France, Luxembourg and the Netherlands were also threatened by critically low levels of stocks for bars tied through distribution deals.

AB InBev produces around 60 percent of the beer consumed in Belgium's bars and cafes, according to the national hoteliers and restaurants federation.


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