A bailiff put an end to the blockade of the ABInBev's Jupille factory in Liège on Monday night. The former Piedbœuf brewery, which produces several beer brands including Jupiler and Corona (inside.beer, 5.11.2019), had been shut down since last Thursday after nine workers at the logistics-transport department had been tested positive for the coronavirus. In the meantime the number of positive cases has increased to ten. Workers of the factory had been blocking production since then asking the company to take health concerns of their employees seriously.The other AB InBev plants in Hoegaarden, Leuven, Leeuw-Saint-Pierre and Buggenhout have not been affected by the blockade.
"There are people who have taken COVID-19 cases lightly. We no longer want these kind of people at the head of Human Resources (HR) or in the security station. It has dragged on too long. People were in danger. A colleague was in a coma. People are very angry," said Patrick Rehan regional secretary at the General Labour Federation of Belgium (FGTB).
After two positive cases in the brewery were detected on 27 August, those workers had been quarantined and all other members of the department and others who were in contact with them were tested for an infection. Apparently all tests came back negative. However, the union is asking for all workers at the plant to be tested. "We know that people have worked with some of the logistics workers. There is a big risk, people come across each other in the locker rooms. Maintenance goes into all departments. Yes, we have real fears," Rehan said.
The court of Liège, however, after being asked by the brewery’s management decided on Monday night against the blockade.
“We asked for this ruling because a large group of employees who wanted to work was prevented from doing so by representatives of one of the unions,” the management said in a press release. “Moreover, the blockade and confrontations with employees who wanted to work have created dangerous situations and contacts that violate our internal and governmental Covid-19 guidelines,” AB InBev argued.
AB InBev also stressed the fact, that its management is still open to meet unions and workers representatives for “any discussion on the concerns of employees and their representatives.”