InBev protest

Workers swamp headquarters; consumers union adds criticism

Dec 17, 2005 - Workers blocked the entry to the world headquarters of the Belgian beer giant InBev on Friday to protest 45 job losses at the main office and hundreds more in breweries in Belgium and France.


Workers at a brewery in nearby Hoegaarden, which will be closed, also joined the action.

Meanwhile, the European Beer Consumers Union (EBCU) criticized the decision to end brewing Hoegaarden beer at its De Kluis brewery in Flanders and move production to its Jupiler plant in Wallonia.

Terry Lock, chair of EBCU, which represents 100,000 beer drinkers across Europe, said: "The UK has already seen the scant regard InBev has for brewing heritage when they closed the Boddingtons brewery. We now see them destroying the brewery that saw the rebirth of Belgian white beer through the inspirational work of Pierre Celis, and transferring production to a completely different region of Belgium with its own indigenous beer styles.

"InBev used to pride itself as being the world's local brewer. It is now merely the biggest brewer in the world and has lost all sense of identity with the brewing heritage of the countries in which it operates."

InBev plans to slash 232 jobs in Belgium, as well as 303 jobs from its French sales and distribution arm.

Chief Executive John Brock said in October that the company had too many breweries and it planned to close plants in Central and Eastern Europe. It shut one of its three Bulgarian breweries in September.

The company increasingly relies on Latin America, Asia and Central and Eastern Europe for growth as North Americans and Europeans gradually cut down the total amount they drink.

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