[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Tuesday, 28 March 2006, 15:46 GMT 16:46 UK
Inbev workers protest at job cuts
Demonstrators protest at Inbev job cut plans
Inbev confirmed the demo halted production at some Belgian sites
Thousands of Inbev workers have mounted a protest at the brewer's Belgian headquarters over looming job cuts.

Unions are angry at plans to move some Inbev activities to Eastern Europe which will lead to 360 job losses - mainly in Belgium and Germany.

The latest cuts come on top of 232 redundancies announced last year by the Stella Artois and Becks maker.

Police said around 2,000 people - from Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg and France - marched on Inbev's Leuven factories.

The Belgo-Brazilian brewer said the demonstrations had led to a shutdown at three of its four factories in Belgium, while the fourth was running at "limited capacity".

Production was expected to return to normal late on Tuesday.

Shake-up

Demonstrators are unhappy that Inbev plans to axe jobs under a restructuring plan, at a time when the company is reaping bumper profits and paying out large bonuses to departing executives.

We're sick of the lay-offs while wealth keeps accumulating at Inbev
Protester

In February, Inbev said it would be centralising its finance and export service operations which would trigger job cuts in Germany, Belgium, Hungary, Luxembourg and the Czech Republic.

Meanwhile, two Belgian factories have been earmarked for closure - including the Hoegaarden brewery, where it makes the distinctive light beer of the same name.

The announcement came on the same day as the firm unveiled a 26% jump in net annual profits to 1.4bn euros ($1.7bn; 966.2m).

"We're sick of the lay-offs while wealth keeps accumulating at Inbev," one French protester said.

Change of focus

Inbev has been scaling back its operations in western Europe where beer sales have been under pressure, instead investing on fast-growing markets such as Russia and China.

Demonstrators protest at Inbev job cut plans
Workers are angry that Inbev plans cuts despite posting bumper profits

"It has become necessary for Inbev to adapt the size and structure of its organisation to take into account the declining and increasingly difficult beer market in Western Europe," Stefan Descheemaeker, Inbev's head of operations in Western Europe, said.

"We have a responsibility to the long-term success of the company and the future of our more than 25,000 European employees."

Inbev - the world's largest brewer by volume - added it would restart talks with unions when the demonstrations have ended.

Unions are calling for more information and clarity about management plans as well as guarantees on job security.


SEE ALSO:
Brazil's Brahma beer goes global
04 Dec 05 |  Business
Belgium's Inbev sees profits soar
08 Sep 05 |  Business
Brazil buy boosts Belgium's Inbev
02 Mar 05 |  Business
Beermaker swallows Russian brewer
03 Jan 05 |  Business
Brewery staff protest in Brussels
28 Oct 04 |  Manchester
Beer giants go on spending spree
03 Oct 04 |  Business


RELATED INTERNET LINKS:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific