The Crunch

The Right to Drink Beer… On the Job!

Last year, workers at the Carlsberg Brewery in Denmark went on strike for the right to drink beer on the job. They have had that right for over a hundred years, but Carlsberg management put an end to that on April 1st. According to the new rules, workers can drink beer only during their lunch break.

Carlsberg truck drivers went on strike, too, even though the new rules don’t apply to them. They still get to drink and drive, but they remain limited to only three beers a day, over and above what they drink during their lunch break. For safety’s sake, Carlsberg trucks are equipped with some sort of ignition device that prevents the vehicle from starting if the driver is legally drunk.

The Wall Street Journal provides some historical perspective: “Workday drinking used to be commonplace at breweries around the world. In the U.S., drinking on the job was common before Prohibition, but gradually has disappeared since the law was repealed in 1933.” The maker of Samuel Adams Boston Lager “says his father and his co-workers used to guzzle beer during the workday at Ohio breweries in the 1940s,” reports the Journal. Today at Sam Adams, workers in the plant are not allowed to drink on the job, but workers in the corporate offices are. Brewery workers at Miller lost their on-the-job drinking right in 1986, and Coors banned it in 1994.

Meanwhile, workers at Carlsberg have temporarily suspended  their strike, but vow to fight for their right to drink and work. In the words of Carlsberg employee Juseif Izaivi: “We need to keep our beer!”

—DB

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