Former workers at South African Breweries have slammed the country's Food and Allied Workers Union for agreeing to redundancy package without their approval.

SAB Ltd, the domestic arm of global brewing giant SABMiller, laid off some 138 workers between May and August 2001 and spent ZAR23m (US$3.77m) on a settlement package, signed last October.

The FAWU and SAB Ltd struck a deal stating that 61 workers would be compensated for 21 months' pay while 53 employees would receive a year's salary. The agreement was in line with a court ruling on the case handed down last September.

However, some disgruntled former workers have claimed that the FAWU did not have a mandate to negotiate with SAB Ltd and have accused the union of "sleeping in the same bed" with the brewer.

"What is disturbing is that the union decided to agree on the settlement without consulting us. It did not ask us whether we agreed or not. We should have been compensated for 35 months. We have been robbed. I fail to understand why FAWU has agreed on the settlement," former employee Wiseman Gquma told the All Africa news agency yesterday (25 January).

SAB Ltd officials in Johannesburg could not be reached for comment as just-drinks went to press.