Carlsberg Tension Still Brews Over on-the-Job Boozing

Union digging in over 'need to keep our beer'
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 10, 2010 8:20 AM CDT
Carlsberg Tension Still Brews Over on-the-Job Boozing
Nils Andersen, chairman of Danish Carlsberg Breweries poses with a bottle of beer after a press conference in Hamburg, northern Germany, on Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2004.   (AP Photo/Fabian Bimmer)

It's perhaps an enviable problem to have, but workers and management at Copenhagen's Carlsberg brewery are still facing off over the right to crack a cold one on the clock. Workers went on strike this week after Carlsberg limited the century-old privilege to a mere three pints during lunch hour. "We need to keep our beer," one worker tells the Wall Street Journal. "I need a beer when I take a cigarette break."

Though many workers are operating heavy machinery or driving trucks, union reps swear over-the-top boozing isn't an issue. "There is sometimes some whistling and maybe some singing, but that's not connected to the drinking," says one. But Carlsberg execs worry about productivity and being "left behind" other Danish firms' zero-tolerance policies. Right on, says the maker of Samuel Adams: "You just can't drink and operate machinery." (Read more Boston Beer stories.)

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