West End brewery workers have voted to take indefinite industrial action as they square up to multinational brewery operation Kirin, the owner of Lion, with 100 workers facing forced redundancy in the midst of the pandemic due to the brewery’s closure.
In a notice lodged late yesterday, United Workers Union notified the operators of the historic South Australian brewery that workers were prepared to take “an unlimited number of stoppages of work of indefinite duration”.
“These essential workers at West End will be working throughout the latest shutdown – putting their health and their families’ health on the line as they did earlier this year,” United Workers Union food and beverage co-ordinator Mark Whenan said today.
“The commitment of West End workers to their jobs and the residents of South Australia has not been matched by the owners of the brewery – Kirin’s bosses only seem committed to giving West End workers the worst end.
“The pandemic has exposed the determination of essential workers at West End who have worked throughout the crisis; it has also exposed the hard times workers face when they lose their jobs.
“The brewery bosses have given workers no sign they understand the gravity of the situation facing these workers when the brewery closes next year.
“Many of these workers have devoted the best part of their lives to this brewery.
“Yet the Kirin beer bosses are ready to throw them on the scrapheap with no special consideration about the finality of this closure.
“The sad thing is this closure is a case study of corporate greed – Kirin is closing a profitable brewery as part of the endless pursuit of greater profits and executive bonuses.
“Workers feel like they have been left little choice but to strike for improved redundancy pay that recognises the dire situation they are facing when the brewery closes.”
Mr Whenan said workers have been buoyed by the support from South Australians angered by the brewery closure and the disappearance of West End Draught as a beer made in South Australia.
“When West End said ‘It pays to be a local’, South Australians stood behind the brand,” Mr Whenan said.
“Now South Australians will be asking themselves how much support they should be giving Kirin and the brands of its Lion offshoot – including Hahn, Tooheys, XXXX, Furphy, James Squire and Little Creatures.”