SCOTCH WHISKY: Dumbarton workers set to walk out over pay dispute

Pictured: Jean-Christophe Coutures, Chivas Brothers’ chairman and CEO, with management team and Glasgow office staff.

By Rory Murphy

Dumbarton whisky workers, who are members of the GMB and UNite trade unions, are set to walk out after union members voted “emphatically” in favour of strike action.

Some 82 percent of Unite Scotland members backed industrial action from the ballot with a 62 percent turnout.  Meanwhile 84.4 percent of GMB members who work for the firm also opted to walk out.

This follows the rejection of an offer, the union say is equivalent to a pay freeze, by treade union members at the Kilmalid site as well as others across the country.

Strike action could now begin from the end of this month unless Chivas Brothers return to the negotiating table with an improved offer.

GMB Scotland uncovered that the Chivas parent company Pernod Ricard awarded pay rises to their workers in France for this year but this hadn’t been reflected here.

          Scotch whisky – and above – some of the bosses who run the business in Scotland.

Elaine Dougall, Unite’s regional coordinating officer, said: “Unite’s members at Chivas Brothers have emphatically backed industrial action. This result comes after months of trying to negotiate a fair pay award for the workers but throughout this whole time the company have barely moved an inch.

“The offer which is tantamount to a pay freeze, despite the workers having continued to boost the profits of the company during the pandemic is disgraceful.

“Also, we have had the recent decision by the US to suspend tariffs on goods including single malt whiskies which is only good news for the industry.

“Unite is asking that Chivas Brothers use this result as an opportunity to make an improved offer or industrial action will take place in a matter of weeks just as the country is easing restrictions on access to pubs and restaurants.”

The restriictions in fact will come to an end on Monday, May 17.

“GMB members have sent a clear message that they are prepared to take industrial action to secure better value for their hard work and sacrifice over the last fourteen months, and the ball is back in the employer’s court to return with an improved offer.”

Jean-Christophe Coutures, Chivas Brothers’ chairman and CEO, blamed Covid-19 when it emerged there would be a ballot on industrial action last month, adding: “We are disappointed that our latest offers – which have included guaranteed pay increases in 2021 and 2022 – have been rejected.”


  1. Solidarity and Support from the Community Party in your struggle for a fair pay.

  2. Tantamount to a pay freeze. No it is a pay freeze.

    The scotch malt whisky industry has lost half its sales to the US due to our US friends putting 50% tariffs on importation. Thankfully some of this loss has been offset with increased exports to I think India.

    But out of the huge EU Market with its worldwide trade deals, the whisky industry might be envisaging harder years ahead as the U.K. struggles to conclude trade deals around the world. Or put another way , do you think that the Whisky Industry thinks that the UK, the mighty UK is going to kick corporate America’s trade arse, or the EU, or China, or the BRIC for that matter.

    So yes, a pay freeze for the workers. Sad that they voted for the circumstances they now find themselves in. Just wait to the new replacement post Brexit workers protection legislation takes hold. Low wages will help make Britain great again.

    We’re all Tories now.

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