Your support keeps us publishing. Follow this link to subscribe to our print magazine.

Asian BrewDog Worker Sacked After Raising Concerns About EDL Presence

Taj Ali

EXCLUSIVE: Tribune can reveal that an Asian BrewDog employee was sacked after raising concerns about the presence of the EDL on the day of a far-right rally.

(Credit: Getty)

On Tuesday 23 April, far-right groups descended on the capital to attend a St. George’s Day rally led by former EDL leader Tommy Robinson and Laurence Fox. The day itself would quickly descend into chaos, with the Met commenting that groups of men wielding flags had been ‘violently forcing their way through’ police cordons an hour before the event was due to take place. Glass bottles were thrown, numerous injuries ensued, and a police horse was struck. By the close of play, the clashes had seen ten people arrested.

As chaos raged in central London, Myriam* turned up to her job at BrewDog’s flagship bar in Waterloo, completely unaware of the fracas taking place slightly over a mile away. As she exited the tube, she saw a message on the internal staff chat. ‘Please tell me it isn’t true that we’re hosting the EDL today,’ said one of her colleagues. Myriam, an Asian woman, was shocked. ‘It can’t be true,’ she told herself as she made her way to work.

‘As I was about to step in, three EDL members with big flags walked out and gave me a side-eye. And I thought, “Oh god, it is true. They’re actually here,”’ she tells Tribune. ‘I came in and asked staff, “Are you guys ok with this?” and they said, “No. This is crazy.”’

Myriam proceeded to the general manager’s office, upset and shaken by what she had witnessed. ‘I asked him what the hell was going on, “Why are we hosting the EDL?” and he said, “We’re not hosting them. They’re just having their meet up.”’ Visibly emotional, with tears in her eyes, she was in despair. ‘I said, “I don’t understand this. This is fucking unbelievable.” I also asked if he would accept the BNP having a meeting here.’

Myriam messaged the manager that night to apologise. ‘I said, “I’m sorry if my emotions were too much, but put yourself in the shoes of a brown woman in this situation.” I explained that my family had experienced racist abuse from the EDL when I was growing up and that I was very triggered by the experience of being surrounded by such a large number of them.’

In documents seen by Tribune, BrewDog accused Myriam of ‘aggressive and abusive behaviour.’

‘This was not the case at all,’ maintains Myriam. ‘All I said was “I can’t fucking believe this. This is fucking unbelievable.” I didn’t swear at my manager.’

‘When I read the accusation, it completely broke me. I was scared, upset, heartbroken. I felt powerless. This is my job. I have bills to pay. I had a breakdown.’

‘They fired me regardless of the truth. I was coming to the manager’s office to explain that I, as a brown girl, was very uncomfortable with the EDL’s presence. They were allowed to sit there and drink before their rally, which always end up violent.

BrewDog, she says, were ignorant about the concerns of people of colour. ‘The person who was conducting my disciplinary meeting wasn’t even aware of who the EDL were. He mentioned the fact that he’d never been to London before, so he didn’t really know.’

‘It didn’t make sense. My managers swear all the time. They’re comfortable with each other. I didn’t swear at my manager. It was such a highly stressful situation. They put me out of a job because of it. It was heartbreaking because I’ve worked there for so many years. I’ve put in so much time and energy and always tried to improve the place.’

Myriam says her colleagues were extremely uncomfortable about the situation. ‘One of my colleagues told me they were in tears due to the situation. One said they no longer felt like being part of the company because of it. A third spoke about how she was told that because she was melanated, she could tolerate spicy food.’

This is not the first time that staff at BrewDog have raised concerns. In late March, an open letter reportedly from disgruntled staff at BrewDog Waterloo claimed they had endured a ‘horrific’ time due to ‘poor’ management practices.  Allegations included claims of ‘bullying and gaslighting’, with workers reporting they ‘had to endure racism, sexism and ableism’. It followed an earlier open letter published in June 2021, signed by 61 former members of staff, making similar claims about workplace practices.

‘I don’t want anything to do with BrewDog anymore,’ says Myriam. ‘It’s so draining working there. It took so much energy out of me that I didn’t even realise how much happier I’d be anywhere else but BrewDog.’

‘BrewDog has a history of treating their workers with contempt, but to sack a worker of colour for objecting to members of a fascist organisation meeting in their workplace is a new low for this company,’ says Bryan Simpson, Lead Organiser at Unite Hospitality.

‘This example may be particularly shocking, but it is part of a plethora of serious complaints we’ve received about the treatment of workers at the Waterloo BrewDog, from a toxic culture of management bullying and unfair dismissals to shocking health and safety breaches. We shall be doing everything we can legally and industrially to ensure that our members at this and every BrewDog receive the justice they deserve.’

A BrewDog spokesperson said:

The standards of behaviour we expect from our colleagues are set out in our workplace code of conduct. There was a clear and unacceptable breach of this code in this instance.

We followed all relevant processes and complied with our investigation and disciplinary policies, and we stand by our decision.’

*Names have been changed to protect identities



About the Author

Taj Ali is the editor of Tribune.