“Hopefully we’ll get a pipeline relatively soon,” student union chair Alexander Westerling told the Göteborgs-Posten (GP) newspaper ahead of his negotiations with the brewery.
Westerling was joined by roughly 50 other students from Chalmers University of Technology who marched into the Carlsberg Brewery in Falkenberg, south of Gothenburg.
The demonstration was part of a tradition started in 1959 when the Chalmers University student union purchased one share in what was then known as Pripp & Lyckholm, part of the company which operated the brewery until it was purchased by Carlsberg in 2000.
The stock purchase gave the students a seat at the company’s annual shareholders meeting, allowing them an opportunity to push the brewery to build a roughly 100 kilometre long pipeline to the university in order to facilitate the supply of beer to the Chalmers’ student union.
But progress on building the pipeline has been slow over the last five decades. So far, only two metres of pipe have been laid – one near the university, and one near a now abandoned brewery in central Gothenburg. No further construction has taken place since 1968.
Undeterred, the students returned to the brewery on Tuesday to renew their demands after a ten year break from pushing the issue.
Among the protesters were members of the somewhat less-than-serious Alliance Orchestra of Gothenburg (Allianceorchestret) and the Chalmersbaletten, a mock-ballet company of students known for performing tongue-in-cheek cabaret and variety shows, much to the delight of brewery staff.
“I’ve been around for a lot of these occupations, but never for one as entertaining as this,” said the head of Carlsberg Sverige, Otto Drakenberg, to GP.
And not long after the students’ occupation of the brewery began, news emerged of a breakthrough in negotiations.
“We’ve listened and accepted their demand. We’ll soon start construction on one metre of pipeline,” Carlsberg spokesperson Göran Orre told the newspaper with a smile.
Orre added that the brewery valued its relationship with Chalmers students, despite their demands.
“There’s a long tradition between Chalmers and first Pripps and now Carlsberg which I think is worth preserving. At the same time they are a big customer for us and it’s important to have good relations,” he said.