Danish brewery workers strike over workplace drinking rights

Drinking on the job is generally not allowed, unless you work at a brewery.

Hundreds of Carlsberg workers in Copenhagen walked off their jobs last week to rebel against the company’s new alcohol policy, which allows them to drink beer only during lunch hours in the canteen. Previously, they could help themselves to beer throughout the day, from coolers placed around the work sites.

The only restriction was that you could not be drunk at work. Carlsberg’s trucks are equipped with alcohol ignition locks to combat drunk driving.

 The world’s fourth largest brewer, Carlsberg had been considering the restrictions for years. The new policy resulted in a strike of around 800 workers on Wednesday and continued into Thursday as around 250 walked off their jobs Thursday. On Friday afternoon, Michael Christiansen (truck driver turned union representative) sent his men back to work temporarily after management agreed to renegotiate workers’ right to free beer in coming weeks.

 Workday drinking used to be commonplace at breweries around the world. But the practice has faded amid concerns about workplace accidents, productivity losses and drunken driving. Carlsberg is one of the few big breweries where it’s still condoned.

  I wish that “lack of drinking at work” could be a problem for me. I’m not a smoker, but with beer I’d finally have a legitimate reason to take breaks during the day. Beer at lunch every day? Hooray beer!