Carlsberg is expecting a ruling on its dispute with workers in Lithuania this week

Carlsberg is expecting a ruling on its dispute with workers in Lithuania this week

Carlsberg has moved to correct claims that it has classified brewing as an “essential service” in Lithuania, to avoid industrial action at its facilities in the country.

The company, which is in disagreement with the International Union of Food (IUF), was reported over the weekend to have gained legal support through a ruling in the country that stated that brewing beer was “vitally essential”. Use of the term means that a blockade of Carlsberg's breweries, which took effect in August, was illegal.

As a result of a breakdown in salary negotiations, which started a year ago, the two sides are awaiting a court decision later this week. After Carlsberg offered a one-year inflationary increase of 1.8% - the union had been arguing for a 12.4% rise over three years - a court ruled in Carlsberg's favour. As a result, the union appealed and, in August, employees blockaded the facilities.

The blockade, however, was overruled in the Lithuanian courts because of the risk of explosions in beer tanks due to the presence of fermenting yeast. “Here, the judge used the term “essential service”,” a spokesperson for Carlsberg told just-drinks today (5 March). “We have never claimed that.”

“To put pressure on Carlsberg and, perhaps, the judge in Lithuania, members of IUF from around the world have sent letters to our CEO, the chairman of our board and the president of Lithuania,” the spokesperson added.

A spokesperson for UK workers' union Unite was quoted in The Daily Mirror newspaper as saying: "This is probably the most ridiculous decision in the world. Of course, many people think beer is great but it does not save lives.”

The Carlsberg spokesperson concluded: “Our company will fully follow the decision of the court.”