Police were called in Tuesday morning to escort managers across the picket line at the Labatt brewery in St. John's.

About 50 unionized employees at the Labatt brewery in St. John's launched an illegal strike on Monday, days before their contract was set to expire.

The workers, who are represented by the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Public and Private Employees, are upset that the company wants them to train three replacement workers in the event of a legal strike.

"The scabs went in, these guys walked out," NAPE representative Chris Henley said Monday evening.

"We have told the company if they bring the scabs out of the building, our members will go back to work and complete their duties."

The workers' contract expires at the end of this month.

Wade Keller, Labatt's director of corporate affairs for Atlantic Canada, said the company is assessing its next move, but added that the brewery will keep producing.

"One thing I can say to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador: we will not run out of beer," Keller told CBC News.

"Whether our workers are there or not, we're going to ensure a supply of beer for our consumers and our customers. We would much rather it be our unionized workers … but if not, we have to prepare."

A similar scene played out during contract talks in 2005, before the Leslie Street plant was the target of a three-week legal strike. At that time, seven wildcat strikers were given suspensions.