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Diageo Scotland GMB strike action confirmed

Strike action across all of Diageo’s Scottish operations is set to begin on 17 September following a dispute over pay.

Talisker Distillery on the Isle of Skye will be one of the sites affected by the strike

On 23 August, 80.5% of GMB Scotland’s almost 1,000 members at Diageo supported a move for strike action following “months of pay talks”. The UK drinks giant proposed a 2.8% ‘final offer’ pay increase for more than 3,000 Scottish workers.

Last Friday (30 August), GMB Scotland said that talks mediated through the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) with Diageo have “collapsed” after the Johnnie Walker owner refused to up its offer.

GMB said the vote followed Diageo’s fiscal 2019 financial results, which reported pre-tax profits of more than £4.2 billion (US$5.1bn), a share buyback programme worth £4.5bn (US$5.5bn) and a 30% pay increase for chief executive Ivan Menezes, taking his total pay to £11.7 million (US$14.2m).

Yesterday afternoon (3 September), GMB served Smirnoff maker Diageo with statutory notice of the strike action, which will begin on Tuesday 17 September and run until Friday 27 September.

The trade union said the action would “severely” impact Diageo’s bottling, maturation and distillery operations across the country, including Lagavulin Distillery, Talisker Distillery, Glenkinchie Distillery, Caol Ila, and Port Ellen maltings.

Industrial action at all of Diageo’s maturation sites and distilleries, excluding the Cameronbridge Distillery and Leven, will take place on 17-18 September and 26-27 September, and at the Shieldhall bottling plant on 19-20 September and 26-27 September.

Workers at grain distillery Cameronbridge and Leven will strike on 18-19 September and 26-27 September.

‘Corporate greed’

GMB Scotland organiser Keir Greenaway said: “Strike action across Diageo’s Scottish operations is a consequence of the insatiable corporate greed within the hierarchy of this company.

“Our campaign for a pay deal that beats the cost of living for our members and their families is a modest proposal against the backdrop of Diageo’s absolutely staggering financial results, which workers in Scotland have more than helped to deliver.

“A huge chunk of Diageo’s credibility and success is built on the back of Scotland and the working class and rural communities that distil, mature, store and bottle their lucrative range of whiskies and white spirits.

“It begs the question: Why has the company spent months low-balling unions with pay offers that fail to tackle the cost of living? If any business can afford to make work pay for its employees it is Diageo.

“A rising tide should lift all boats but instead we have to suffer the grotesque spectacle of Ivan Menezes and his shareholders carving up the spoils while workers in Scotland get thrown scraps from the fat cats’ table.

“It’s just not credible and we aren’t going to leave this unchallenged. Diageo must get real on pay or they will be hit with a sustained wave of strike action affecting many of their most profitable brands.”

A Diageo spokesperson said: “We have well developed contingency plans in the event of industrial 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.”

Last month, Unite Scotland workers at Diageo’s three Scottish plants voted in favour of strike action.

Unite Scotland workers across the Leven, Cameronbridge and Shieldhall plants will now move forward with strike action, which is expected to take place from September to November.

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