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Union and Former Staff Accuse Brewdog of Getting Ahead of Workplace Documentary by ‘Intimidating’ Workers

A union has described chief executive James Watt’s posts regarding an upcoming report on the “toxic workplace” at the company as “efforts by a multimillionaire to silence” workers

Brewdog co-founders Martin Dickie and James Watt pose with hand sanitiser in Brewdog bottles.
Brewdog co-founders Martin Dickie and James Watt.
Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

Brewdog co-founder James Watt has allegedly used the run-up to a documentary about the “craft” brewery’s workplace culture to intimidate former staff who spoke to its makers under anonymity, according to a report in the Guardian.

Watt, who has issued two lengthy mea culpas since dozens of workers accused Brewdog of “a culture of fear“ and systemic workplace harassment in June 2021, appeared to use forum posts to “warn” staff that anonymity could be revoked by the BBC if any of the claims, whether in the documentary or not, resulted in court action. The Guardian reports Watt wrote that “If anyone is in any way concerned by this, it is not too late to withdraw your consent.”

Watt went as far as to claim that elements of the documentary, entitled Disclosure: The Truth About Brewdog and due to air on the evening of 24 January on BBC Scotland and iPlayer, were predicated on defamatory claims:

We also know false information has been given to the BBC, which if broadcast, would be highly defamatory. BrewDog fully supports transparency and investigative journalism. However it must also protect itself from defamatory allegations and will not hesitate to do so.

In a screengrab of the forum posts shared to Twitter, Watt writes that “We know they have spoken to many people who left for disciplinary reasons and thus have an obvious axe to grind.”

In response, the union that represents some Brewdog workers gave the comments short shrift. Unite Hospitality organiser Bryan Simpson told the Guardian that “Any attempt to intimidate current and former workers taking a stand on systemic mistreatment will not be tolerated ... We will represent all Unite members fully against efforts by a multimillionaire to silence them.”

Brewdog’s ascent from “punk” brewery to billion pound “punk” brewery has been marked by a series of risible publicity stunts and infantile advertising that has tipped into discrimination. It has frequently incorporated casual sexism, casual sexism based on “beer porn,” and one occasion implicit, if perhaps mistaken endorsement of Donald Trump into its version of whatever “punk” is supposed to be. Now, days before a revealing documentary, Brewdog appears to have stayed true to form.

Eater has contacted Brewdog for a statement on Watt’s posts.