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Chivas workers enact overtime ban ahead of strike

GMB workers at Chivas Brothers sites in Scotland have implemented a ban on overtime in response to the company’s pay freeze offer.

Chivas Brothers produces Chivas Regal blended Scotch whisky

Chivas Brothers workers who are members of trade unions Unite and GMB are due to go on strike at a number of sites across Scotland at the end of May.

The unions said the company had offered a pay freeze, but Chivas Brothers pledged guaranteed pay increases for 2021 and 2022. As such, workers were balloted for strike action by their unions.

More than four fifths of GMB members backed calls for strike action. Chivas Brothers’ Scottish sites maintained full production during the pandemic, GMB noted.

The continuous overtime ban came into effect yesterday (26 May).

GMB said the move was implemented ahead of ‘crunch talks’ between union representatives and Chivas bosses tomorrow morning through ACAS.

GMB added that the discussions were ‘critical’ and could mean strike action is dodged over the summer months.

“Chivas has the money, there’s no need whatsoever to impose a real-terms pay cut on their workers across Scotland, and strike action can be avoided if management tables an improved offer this Friday,” said GMB Scotland organiser Keir Greenaway.

“These dedicated workers have helped this company see through what will hopefully prove to be the worst of the Covid-19 pandemic, maintaining full production across Scottish operations, and stabilising the business.”

The industrial action would affect Chivas’ key Scottish production sites, including the Kilmalid bottling hall, Strathclyde grain distillery, and maturation sites in Speyside, Clydebank and Ayrshire.

Greenaway added: “There is also great confidence among Chivas executives in the long-term growth of the Scotch whisky industry and GMB members are the foundation for this optimism – it would be wrong on the employer’s part to ignore the people they cannot do without.

“Chivas can end this dispute on Friday by bringing forward a better offer that is worthy of our members’ consultation.”

Chivas Brothers, the Scotch whisky arm of French firm Pernod Ricard, employs about 1,600 workers in Scotland. In full-year 2020, Chivas Brothers’ organic sales declined by 11% due to the pandemic.

Maintained jobs and pay

Chivas Brothers chairman and CEO Jean-Christophe Coutures, said: “Despite the unprecedented business challenges we continue to face as we recover from the impact of Covid-19, we have maintained 100% of jobs and pay throughout the pandemic ­­and even recruited across our Scottish sites.

“We remain committed to seeking a resolution with the unions that focuses our collective efforts on achieving long-term business success, job security and growth, and we are determined to do everything possible to minimise any disruption that might occur as a result of this overtime ban.”

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