Lost brewery jobs not our fault: EPA


Lost brewery jobs not our fault: EPA

The New South Wales Environment Protection Authority denies it has contributed to job losses at Carlton and United's Kent brewery in Sydney.


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The New South Wales Environment Protection Authority denies it has contributed to job losses at Carlton and United's Kent brewery in Sydney.
The NSW Labor Council claimed that the EPA pressured the brewery to stop a key operation, which allegedly contributed to its intended closure and the loss of up to 400 jobs. An EPA spokesperson told WorkplaceInfo this was incorrect.
According to NSW Labor Council secretary John Robertson, local residents complained to the EPA about noise caused by the loading and unloading of empty kegs at night. He alleged that EPA pressure to stop this operation compromised a key component of the brewery's business.
No interference
The EPA spokesperson said no infringement notices were issued, no legal action was taken, nor did any negotiations take place or pressure come to bear concerning noise coming from the brewery. The brewery's intended closure had nothing to do with the EPA, he said.
The EPA spokesperson refused to comment specifically on whether the EPA received noise complaints about the Kent brewery, but said with an old site like the Kent brewery there would be noise and odour problems. Complaints would not be uncommon because the brewery was close to a residential area, he said.
A spokesperson for Carlton and United Breweries told WorkplaceInfo the brewery dealt directly with local residents on environmental issues. The brewery had made changes to managing noise, smell and access, but nothing significant had occurred to draw the attention of the EPA or require the EPA’s direct involvement, he said.
Over time, local ‘impingements’ had contributed to making the site less efficient, so the brewery decided to close its Kent operation and move to another of its remaining breweries.
Managing complaints
Labor Council secretary John Robertson alleged to WorkplaceInfo that although the EPA placed no formal requirements or regulations on the brewery, informal discussions were held between the EPA and the brewery about noise reduction. This led to a company review of the site concerning continuing residential encroachment and future viability, he claimed.
'We have a situation where people buy homes close to industrial sites for a low price because of noise implications. Then once they have set up home they begin agitating to enforce noise controls on neighbouring businesses,' Robertson said.
Robertson wanted the Carr Government to review planning laws to ensure new residents could not drive business out of their area. He suggested a contract attached to new developments that prevented new residents filing noise complaints with the local council or EPA.
Protecting entitlements
Meanwhile, union delegates have demanded that Carlton and United Breweries place existing worker entitlements into a trust fund, bank guarantee or similar to protect money owed to workers.
The delegates did not want to see a corporate restructure that left the brewery a shell company with no money to pay out entitlements. They see this as a reasonable request given that the company will cease trading at the Kent brewery within two years.
The delegates have also demanded a redundancy package of six weeks pay for every year of service; offers of redeployment to other Carlton United operations around Australia; retraining and employment placement advice; and written references for all redundant workers.
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