Craft beer giant Brewdog abandons real living wage for employeeson January 10, 2024 at 7:18 pm

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The Ellon-based craft beer giant says the decision was “necessary” despite a £321m profit last year.

Brewdog beerImage source, Getty Images

Craft beer giant Brewdog will no longer pay its employees the real living wage.

Workers will receive the UK government’s national minimum wage of £11.44 an hour from April – below the £12 cost of living-based rate.

The Aberdeenshire-based firm said the move was “necessary” as part of an effort to return to profitability after making a £24m operating loss last year.

But former staff have accused the company of “abandoning its principles” over the move.

A letter to employees, seen by BBC Scotland News, said “hard decisions” had to be taken in order to maintain financial stability despite a “bumper” festive period.

Brewdog, founded by James Watt and Martin Dickie, had paid the voluntary wage since 2015.

Bryan Simpson, hospitality organiser of Unite, said: “To withdraw the real living wage now, during the most acute cost of living crisis in a generation is outrageous.

“We are already working with our Brewdog members across the country to collectively challenge this awful decision and force the senior management of the company to do the right thing by the workers who have made them millions.”

The real living wage is independently calculated based on living standards in the UK and is separate from the government’s national living wage.

The rate will increase to £12 an hour outside London and £13.15 for workers in the English capital on 1 April in line with inflation.

Brewdog staff over the age of 23 will receive a slight pay rise, but only from £10.90 to £11.44.

Those working in London will see no increase from their current rate of £11.95.

Brewdog co-founder James Watt

Image source, Alamy

Blog posts on the brewer’s website referencing its status as a living wage employer have been removed.

The Punks with Purpose campaign group for ex-workers, set up amid mistreatment allegations in 2021, said: “The real Living Wage has been a cornerstone of BrewDog’s public identity for years.

“This real-terms pay cut for hard-working front line staff proves there is no principle too dearly held for them to abandon and is directly opposed to BrewDog’s previous claim that their ‘crew are their most important resource’ and giving them fair pay for the work they do is one of their ‘core beliefs’.”

Brewdog’s revenue grew to £321.2m in the 2022-23 financial year, but the firm blamed an operating loss on increased production costs for its most popular product, Punk IPA, and increased energy bills at its Ellon plant.

Its co-founder, Mr Watt, previously apologised to staff after a BBC Disclosure documentary in 2022 heard claims of inappropriate behaviour

A spokesperson for the company said: “As a result of the changes we’re making – and despite unprecedented challenges in the hospitality sector – our staff outside London will be getting a 4.95% increase in base pay, and crew currently working in London will be paid 4.5% above the National Living Wage.

“We have always been fully committed to doing the best we can for our people, and our benefits package is far more generous than the industry average”

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