Diageo faces strike action after second pay rejection

More than 500 of Diageo’s Scottish workers will be balloted for strike action after the second rejection of an “insignificant” pay increase.

On 16 July, trade union Unite Scotland confirmed it would move to ballot its members who work across Diageo’s Scottish operations for strike action.

The ballot comes after 95% of the firm’s Scottish workers rejected the UK drinks giant’s pay offer of 2.5% increase after weeks of negotiations.

On Wednesday (24 July), Unite said that talks between the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) and Diageo have “collapsed” after two rounds of discussions.

The Johnnie Walker owner had upped its pay offer to 2.8% through the “consolidation of product allowance”, which was deemed “insignificant” by the Scottish workers.

Unite will now ballot the workers across all of Diageo’s Scottish sites including Leven, Cameron Bridge and Shieldhall from 29 July. The ballots will close on 16 August.

Unite said that if the ballots are successful “it is likely that discontinuous strike action will take place from late August to November”.

The trade union said that the move to ballot follows Diageo’s announcement of its 2019 fiscal year sales yesterday (25 July), and that workers should “benefit from the success” of the firm’s results.

Unite regional industrial officer Bob McGregor said: “Diageo’s announcement of an increase in pre-tax profits to £4.2 billion in the last year has been built on the hard work of its workforce.

“The company seem more than happy to increase its marketing budget by 8% but refuse to give their workforce an increase anywhere close to that figure. This is a shameful position.

“It is only right that the workers benefit from the success and Diageo can easily avoid industrial action by making our members a fair offer.”

Smirnoff vodka owner Diageo said it has “well developed contingency plans in place in the event of any strike action”.

A Diageo spokesperson said: “We met with representatives of the GMB and Unite unions for further discussions on pay negotiations facilitated by Acas.

“Despite improving our offer, the unions did not move from their position to enable meaningful discussions to take place.

“We remain committed to seeking a resolution and ensuring our employees receive an increase on their pay, alongside maintaining the competitiveness of our operations.”

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