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Sapporo set for talks amid Sleeman Breweries strike

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Sapporo's Canadian beer unit, Sleeman Breweries, has said it is seeking a quick end to a factory dispute after 80 workers went on strike.

Sapporo posted record sales in North America last year

Sapporo posted record sales in North America last year

Production staff at the Sleeman-Unibroue plant in Chambly, Québec, set up picket lines last week after negotiations broke down over the renewal of the collective agreement. The Teamsters union that represents the workers said that a final offer from Sleeman was rejected by 93% of its members.

The union claims workers are being forced into overtime on short notice and that a work/life balance is proving difficult to achieve after positions were left vacant due to retirements and job cuts. The union also accused Sleeman of installing surveillance cameras throughout the brewery in a violation of privacy.

A Sleeman spokesperson told just-drinks today that negotiations are on-going and that the two sides are due to meet on Wednesday at Québec's work ministry.

"We will continue to show our openness and our willingness to cooperate in order to find a quick resolution to the renewal of the collective agreement," the spokesperson said.

Asked about the video cameras, the spokesperson said cameras have been in operation at the facility for several years. 

"The cameras inside the brewery videotape our processes and ensure compliance with our quality standards," the spokesperson said. "The outdoor cameras, for their part, are there to assure the plant's security."

About 100 people work at the Sleeman-Unibroue plant in Chambly. The spokesperson said the factory, which produces brands including Sleeman, Sapporo, Blanche de Chambly, La Maudite and La Fin du Monde, has enough inventory to last until Autumn. Sapporo acquired the Unibroue plant in 2006 when it bought Sleeman Breweries. Sleeman has two other breweries in Canada, one in Guelph, Ontario, and one in Vernon, British Columbia.

Sapporo's North American beer business, which includes Sleeman Breweries, posted record profits in 2016. Sleeman's sales climbed by 2%, while Sapporo USA sales increased by 1%.


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