THREE former Tennent's workers have hit out at the drinks giant after being made "scapegoats" for alleged theft, drinking and smoking at the brewery.

Forklift truck drivers Richard Pearson, Terence McPhilemy and James Ferrie were all named by an anonymous whistleblower after bosses at the Glasgow site found cigarette butts and empty beer cans.

They all denied the claims and eventually took their case to an employment tribunal after being subjected to a "sham" disciplinary investigation.

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Mr Pearson, 55, and Mr McPhilemy, 57, won their cases and received a combined £27,000 payout, while Mr Ferrie, 59, lost out because he took the advice of his union representative and resigned at an early stage.

Mr McPhilemy, of Glasgow, who said his life had been "turned upside down" by the lager producer, was forced to resign after bosses told him he could either be sacked and leave with nothing or resign and receive his notice pay.

As it was just before Christmas, he felt pressured to resign so his family would not be left with nothing over the festive period.

Mr Pearson, of Condorrat, North Lanarkshire, was not sacked but bosses did not pay his wages in December as a punishment and he also eventually resigned.

Employment judge Ian McFatridge found that the men had been unfairly, constructively dismissed by manager Alan Edgar who had little evidence against them.

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The judge said: "It appeared to me that Mr Edgar had an entirely fixed mind on the subject and that the disciplinary process was essentially a sham."

He also said that he had "absolutely no doubt" that had Mr Ferrie not resigned and waited to be sacked, "such a dismissal would have been unfair".

The tribunal heard that at the end of October last year there were concerns that workers were smoking on site and empty cans and packaging were discovered.

when staff were made aware, an anonymous worker came forward claiming Mr Ferrie regularly drank on site, Mr McPhilemy was stealing from the brewery and smoked in his forklift truck, and Mr Pearson smoked in his truck.

They were suspended while an investigation was carried out.

Mr McPhilemy was later cleared of stealing after it emerged he had permission from his line manager to take cans home when there was a burst pallet, but he admitted smoking in his truck on one occasion when it was raining.

He said: "I didn't think smoking one cigarette was that serious, I was in total shock.

"They told me I was going to be sacked and I would be better resigning because I would be paid my notice. It was coming up to Christmas and I was panicking, I felt under pressure and I thought I was better to get something to see my family through December and January, so I resigned."

Mr Ferrie, of Glasgow, was accused of drinking on site by another member of staff who had admitted to drinking because he was an alcoholic.

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Ahead of his disciplinary hearing, his GMB union rep advised him to resign so that he received some pay and he agreed. This ultimately resulted in him losing out at the tribunal.

Mr Pearson was dealt with lastly and the evidence against him consisted only of the anonymous worker saying he had smoked in his truck.

He was issued with a final written warning and told he would receive no bonuses for two years.

He was also told that he would be suspended without pay for one month and initially believed that he would receive no pay in January, but when he went to the bank just before Christmas he had no wages.

Mr Pearson, who also eventually resigned, said: "This really spoiled my Christmas last year and I ended up with depression.

"It caused a lot of worry in my house, I was the primary breadwinner and we had no wage coming in in December."

He described the investigation as a "witch-hunt", adding: "They took that anonymous person's word against mine very, very easily. They were looking for somebody to persecute and that was us."

Both Mr Pearson and Mr McPhilemy have struggled to find work after resigning and said the decision against Mr Ferrie, who is now working as a taxi driver, had "put a dampener on things".

Tennent's did not respond to The Herald's request for a comment.