Diageo workers in Scotland are going on strike this month

Staff at drinks giant Diageo’s Leven, Cameron Bridge and Shieldhall plants in Scotland will go on strike this month.

Scotland’s Unite the Union has announced that talks had “broken down” between trade unions involved with a dispute over staff pay rates.

Roughly 500 Unite members will go on strike between 18–19 September and 26–27 September at the Cameron Bridge and Leven sites from, and between 19–20 September and 26–27 September at Shieldhall.

A statement from Unite said talks broke down at a meeting on 30 August due to “the failure to achieve a reasonable pay increase for the workforce.”

Members at Diageo’s Leven, Cameronbridge and Shieldhall plants voted for strike action in August this year, with Unite Scotland warning that operations could “grind to a halt” as a result.

Last month Diageo – which owns Smirnoff, Bailey’s, Johnnie Walker, Guinness, Tanqueray and Gordon’s Gin – reported net sales of £12.9 billion in the year to 30 June 2019, up 5.8% on the figure recorded last year. Chief executive Ivan Mnezes received an £11.7 million pay package for the year to June.

Back in July, members of trade union GMB and Unite Scotland rejected Diageo’s improved pay offer of 2.8% for its 1,500 Diageo members, arguing that this would see its members worse off than in real terms.

Unite regional industrial officer Bob MacGregor called the pay rise figure of 2.5% “paltry” and “insulting” at the time of the vote

MacGregor said the spirits giant has made “minimal effort to resolve this dispute through negotiations, which is the central reason why talks broke down at Acas last week.”

“Unite entered those talks with our sole objective being to achieve a fair pay award for the workforce and in doing so to avert strike action. Remember, this is a giant in the drinks industry which just announced an increase in pre-tax profits of £4.2 billion.

“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 spokesperson for Diageo said the company already had “well developed” contingency plans in place ahead of the strike action.

“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.”

Diageo has promised a £150 million in Scotch whisky tourism this year, submitting plans in February to convert a building in the heart of Edinburgh’s shopping district into a visitor centre for its blended Scotch brand Johnnie Walker.

Earlier this month it acquired a “significant” majority stake in non-alcoholic ‘spirit’ brand Seedlip, after purchasing a minority portion of the business back in June 2016. The drinks giant has also received planning permission to overhaul its Cardhu distillery where it plans to build a visitor centre. 

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