Diageo engineers strike over payBy Nicola Carruthers
Ten Diageo engineers at the firm’s Leven plant in Scotland are planning a series of 48-hour strikes between January and April over a pay dispute.
According to trade union Unite, Diageo will change the current shift pattern for engineers at its Leven plant in Fife, which will in effect bring other workers down to a new starter rate.
This was done without consultation from the unions, Unite said, with the concern first raised in 2019.
The trade union estimates some of Diageo’s engineers could lose around 6% of their pay when moved to the lower rate of pay.
In November 2022, the trade union threatened strike action and balloted its members for continuous strike action if the matter isn’t resolved.
As such, 10 workers from the weekend engineering support team based at the Diageo facility kicked off strike action at 7am GMT on Saturday 14 January for 48 hours. Further strikes are planned for weekends between 21 January and 3 April.
The strike action would affect the engineering support for the bottling plant, which Unite believes would not be safe to run without the maintenance its members provide.
Unite regional officer Bob Macgregor said: “Diageo is one of the most profitable companies in the UK yet they are proposing to cut our members’ pay which is completely unacceptable.
“The reason why Diageo is able to generate billions in profits is because of the skilled work of its workforce.
“Our engineering members who keep the bottling plant safe to operate at Leven have been left with no choice but to take a stand against Diageo. The strike action will continue until they get what they deserve.”
Unite highlighted that Diageo recorded an operating profit increase of 18.2% to £4.4 billion (US$5.3bn) for the year ending July 2022, with net sales up by 21.4%.
A Diageo spokesperson said: “This dispute is with 10 of our weekend shift engineers in relation to the number of night shifts required and associated shift premiums.
“We are not introducing a lower rate of pay for new starters. We are proud of the pay and benefits packages we provide to our people across all our sites, but unfortunately, this group of 10 employees have rejected our proposal.
“We have well-developed contingency plans in place to ensure the site can continue to operate safely and as planned. We remain committed to seeking a resolution to this dispute and are open to further discussions.”