Diageo faces wave of strikes in Scotland over pay, says trade union
By Democrat reporter
Spirits giant Diageo is facing major disruption to its Scottish operations after unions announced a series of strikes in a dispute over pay.
GMB Scotland said a “rolling programme of action” would run from 17 to 27 September, hitting all Diageo bottling, maturation and distillery plants.
Unite has also announced strike action dates at the company’s Leven, Cameron Bridge and Shieldhall sites.
Diageo said it remained committed to seeking a resolution to the dispute.
The move by the unions follows the breakdown of talks over pay at arbitration service Acas on Friday.
Both unions said their members had rejected a 2.8% “final offer” for staff in Scotland.
Between them, Unite and GMB Scotland members account for nearly half of Diageo’s total workforce of 3,000 in Scotland.
The unions said their positions should be seen in the context of Diageo – whose brands include Smirnoff, Johnnie Walker, Tanqueray and Gordon’s gin – recently announcing annual pre-tax profits of £4.2bn.
Staff frustrations come at a time when Diageo is ploughing large funds into a flagship Johnnie Walker visitor attraction in Edinburgh, as part of a £150m investment in Scottish whisky tourism.
The spirits group has seen its share price rise by more than 20% since the start of the year on the back of strong gin and whisky sales.
GMB Scotland organiser Keir Greenaway said: “Strike action across Diageo’s Scottish operations is a consequence of the insatiable corporate greed within the hierarchy of this company.
“Our campaign for a pay deal that beats the cost of living for our members and their families is a modest proposal against the backdrop of Diageo’s absolutely staggering financial results, which workers in Scotland have more than helped to deliver.
“Diageo must get real on pay or they will be hit with a sustained wave of strike action affecting many of their most profitable brands.”
Unite claimed that Diageo had “made minimal effort” to resolve the dispute through negotiations.
Regional industrial officer Bob MacGregor added: “Unite warned weeks ago that unless Diageo made a fair offer then our membership would take strike action. We have now reached that point.
“The door always remains open to further negotiations but strike action is now imminent.”
A Diageo spokesman said: “We are a very good employer and remain committed to seeking a resolution and ensuring our employees receive an increase on their pay, alongside maintaining the competitiveness of our operations.
“We have well developed contingency plans in the event of industrial action.”