Belgian beer blockade holds strong

Belgian beer union officials are talking about intensifying their strike against Anheuser-Busch InBev’s plants in Leuven and Liege although the company said it plans fresh talks with the union today.

A second round of talks ended Tuesday ended without agreement. Staff at the AB InBev plants have been blocking the plant entrances for two weeks.

Production at its Belgian breweries has come to a complete standstill. Company spokeswoman Karen Coeck said walls of beer crates erected since Jan. 7 have prevented the company from bringing raw materials, empty bottles and packaging goods into the plants.

“Also, the storage facilities are full of beer that cannot be shipped out,” Coeck said.

A Belgian union official said it was calling on the company to withdraw its restructuring plan, which would cut about 800 jobs in Europe, including 263 in Belgium. “We will continue with the blockades and will discuss whether to intensify our action,” he said.

In announcing new talks today AB InBev said the possibility of up to 150 early retirement plans and 70 new positions would considerably lesson the impact of the job cuts.