Diageo strike called off at the eleventh hour

Strike action that would have seen a walkout of more than a thousand workers at Diageo plants across Scotland has been averted after the spirits giant tabled a new offer.

The new offer by the drink’s giant was made hours before the strike was due to start at 10pm last night. Had it gone ahead, it would have seen a “rolling programme” of 24-hour strikes planned to run until 27 September at Diageo’s Cameron Bridge site, the largest grain distillery in Europe, and its bottling hall at Leven and Shieldhall, the world’s largest whisky packaging site. Unions claimed the strike, which was part of a long running pay dispute, could disrupt operations across Diageo’s brands, and hit all of Diageo’s bottling, maturation and distillery plants in Scotland, including well-known distilleries such as Talisker, on the Isle of Skye, Lagavullin on Islay and Knockandoo in Moray, although the company said it had “well-developed contingency plans” in the event of industrial action.

The latest offer followed months of negotiations. 

A statement from GMB Scotland Organiser Keir Greenaway and Unite Scotland Officer Stevie Deans said they there pleased that Diageo had tabled an offer that they felt merited their members’ consultation on the brink of strike action.

“The offer is a two year commitment on pay and also sets out a time frame for the negotiation of a new collective agreement. Our strike action is now suspended while a full consultative ballot of our members takes place on the offer,” they said.

A Diageo spokesman told the BBC that following further negotiations on Tuesday, the improved offer had been recommended for acceptance by both the GMB and Unite unions.

“We are pleased to have reached agreement on a good, fair offer that ensures our employees can receive an increase on their pay while maintaining the competitiveness of our operations,” it said.

The offer is understood to be a two-year deal with a 3% rise this year and an increase in pay next year, in line with the retail price index (RPI) rate as it stands in June 2020.

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