INDUSTRY: Strike action averted at whisky giant Chivas Brothers

By Bill Heaney

Trade unions have called off the threat of strike action at whisky and spirits producer Chivas Brothers after a pay dispute was settled.

More than 500 people are employed on the Chivas bottling and packaging plant at Kilmalid in Dumbarton and another 1,000 at similar sites and distilleries across Scotland.

GMB Scotland said members had voted to accept an improved offer from the company following further talks.

The deal will see basic pay rise by 2.5% in 2021 and by at least 2% next year.

Chivas welcomed the news, adding that “we can now move on from the disruption caused by the dispute”.

In May, members of the GMB and Unite unions backed strike action across Chivas’ Scottish sites after pay talks collapsed.

The unions claimed that the firm, whose brands include Glenlivet, Ballantine’s and Royal Salute, were unwilling to lift “a pay freeze”.

Chivas employs about 1,600 workers in Scotland, including at the Kilmalid bottling hall, Strathclyde Grain Distillery, Glenlivet Distillery and maturation sites in Speyside, Clydebank and Ayrshire.

‘Chivas have listened’

GMB Scotland Organiser Keir Greenaway said: “Chivas have listened to the workers’ voice and our members have now voted to accept an improved offer on their pay and conditions for the next year.

“This will provide some stability in these uncertain times for our members, but rest assured we will continue to campaign and organise to make work better for them.”

In a statement, Chivas chairman and chief executive Jean-Christophe Coutures welcomed the resolution of the dispute.

He said: “Despite the unprecedented business challenges we continue to face as we recover from the impact of Covid-19, we have maintained 100% of jobs and pay throughout the pandemic – and even recruited across our Scottish sites.

“Our newly-agreed offer – which includes guaranteed pay increases in 2021 and 2022 – means we can now move on from the disruption caused by the dispute and refocus our collective efforts on our recovery from the impact of the pandemic and achieving long-term business success.”

Top picture: The Chivas plant at Kilmalid, Dumbarton, where 500 people are employed.

 

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