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Distilleries hit

Diageo whisky workers prepare for strikes over pay dispute

Ivan Menezes with Johnnie Walker man

Ivan Menezes: £11.7m salary (pic: Terry Murden)

Whisky distilleries will be hit by strike action this week after last-ditch talks with Diageo failed to resolve their pay dispute.

Hundreds of workers are scheduled to walk out over selected days this month.

The GMB union warned the action would “severely” impact Diageo’s bottling, maturation and distillery operations across the country.

Unite issued dates and timings of strike action at the company’s Cameron Bridge, Leven and Shieldhall plants:

18th – 19th September   Cameron Bridge and Leven
19th – 20th September   Shieldhall
26th – 27th September   Shieldhall
26th – 27th September   Cameron Bridge and Leven

Unite regional industrial officer Bob MacGregor said: “In the latest round of talks between Diageo and the joint trade unions today absolutely zero progress was made.

“Diageo deliberately chose to use this last opportunity ahead of strike action towaste time and indulge themselves in a charade. Diageo is a giant of the drinks industry, which is making billions in profits and paying its CEO Ivan Menezes an annual remuneration package of £11.7 million, yet it treats its workers who make these profits with such contempt.

“Diageo has now become the poster-child for insatiable corporate greed. We are always willing to talk with the company but this must be on the basis of respecting and properly rewarding the workforce with an improved offer.”

On 23 August, 80.5% of GMB Scotland members at Diageo voted in favour of strike action following “months of pay talks”.

In a statement ahead of the action, a Diageo spokesperson said: “Meetings have been scheduled with the unions. We want our employees in Scotland to continue to be well paid for the great job they do and receive a rise above the cost of living.

“Everyone receives a broad range of strong benefits, which this month [September] included free shares worth 8.56% of salaries for every employee. We want to finalise an agreement through meaningful talks with the union groups but have contingency plans in place in the event of strike action.”

Diageo, which also owns Smirnoff vodka and Tanqueray gin, had proposed a 2.8% “final offer” pay increase for more than 3,000 of its Scottish workers.

GMB Scotland said discussions mediated through the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) with Diageo “collapsed” on 30 August after the group refused to increase its offer.

The vote for action followed the release of Diageo’s 2019 financial results, which showed pre-tax profits of more than £4.2 billion, a share buyback programme worth £4.5bn and a 30% pay rise Mr Menezes.

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