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Workers at the iconic South Australian West End Brewery have commenced an indefinite strike with the aim of winning a fair redundancy for all workers who will be left jobless after Lion announced the site closure earlier this month.

The essential workers are fighting for an improved redundancy pay that recognises they are being made jobless in the middle of an economic recession, despite the fact they worked loyally for the company throughout the pandemic.

In addition, 15 long-term “casual” workers, some with up to 26 years of service, are likely to be thrown into unemployment with no redundancy pay at all. The workers who look likely to miss out have given almost 100 years of combined service to the company.

The long-term casual contracts these workers are under are true to form for Lion and parent company Kirin, who regularly keep a high proportion of workers in precarious and insecure work across their Tooheys and XXXX breweries in New South Wales and Queensland.

Kirin has spent their energy recently doing their best to portray long-serving and hard-working employees as greedy, but these claims are under serious question after they dodged the union’s valid enquiries about the workers’ right to redundancies.

United Workers Union members and West End workers are calling on the beverage giant to provide iron-clad commitments, written into the new union agreement, that all workers, both permanent and labour-hire, will receive redundancies.

Quotes attributable to Mark Whenan, United Workers Union South Australian Coordinator of Food and Beverages:

“Rather than pay workers what they deserve, Lion and Kirin are attempting to smear workers, some of whom are potentially getting nothing after more than 20 years of loyal service.

“South Australians won’t stand for this sort of disregard for the workers who have made the beer they love for the last three decades.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if South Australians decided to stop drinking beers associated with a company who has a history of casualising, and then abandoning, workers in this great state.”

Case studies

  • One worker, Craig, has worked 26 years at West End Brewery. Craig’s day to day role is no different from any other employee, but because he is technically employed by a third party labour-hire company he is likely to receive no redundancy payment.
  • Mark, another labour-hire worker, has given 22 years to the company but is also facing no redundancy payment.