Heineken Belgian plant blocked in job cut dispute

BRUSSELS Thu Jan 28, 2010 5:31pm IST

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BRUSSELS Jan 28 (Reuters) - Workers at a Belgian unit of Dutch brewer Heineken NV (HEIN.AS) blocked the entrance to a plant in northeast Belgium on Thursday in protest against planned job cuts, union officials said.

The Alken-Maes brewery wants to cut 43 of some 230 jobs at the plant to cut costs, but unions walked out of talks with management saying they would only resume dialogue if there were no forced redundancies.

"The talks started in October and management has not made any concessions. We had already announced that we wanted them to to offer early retirement," a union official said.

A spokeswoman for the Alken-Maes brewery, which produces Maes and Cristal lagers as well as more specialist beers such as Grimbergen, said she hoped management could restart talks with the unions soon.

Alken-Maes has two other smaller plants in Belgium and employs about 550 in total.

Earlier this month workers at Anheuser-Busch InBev (ABI.BR), the world's largest beer maker, sealed off entrances to the company's large plants in Leuven and Liege for two weeks and to the smaller Hoegaarden brewery for a week.

The protest over AB InBev's plan to shed 299 out of its 2,700 Belgian workers ended last week. (Reporting by Antonia van de Velde; Editing by David Holmes)

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