Unite explores legal action in Diageo dispute
Trade union Unite is ‘actively’ exploring legal options over claims that Diageo workers could have been unlawfully induced to sign new contracts.
Ten Diageo engineers at the firm’s Leven bottling plant in Fife, Scotland, kicked off a series of 48-hour strikes in January. The latest industrial action will resume tonight (24 February) until 6am on 27 February with further strikes planned for every weekend until 3 April.
The trade union estimates some of Diageo’s engineers could lose around 6% of their pay when moved to a proposed lower rate of pay.
Unite said the latest strike action coincides with claims that Diageo employees could have been unlawfully persuaded by the company to sign new contracts.
If these claims are verified, then Unite said it would represent a ‘significant escalation’ in the Leven dispute.
Unite industrial officer Bob Macgregor said: “Unite is now also exploring the possibility of progressing legal claims on behalf of our members for unlawful inducements in a development that threatens to significantly escalate matters. We have one simple message to Diageo: our members will not be intimidated and they are determined to fight on.”
Unite will also hold another protest tomorrow (25 February) at the Johnnie Walker Princes Street experience in Edinburgh, and on Sunday (26 February) outside the bottling plant in Leven.
The union previously held protests outside the two sites on 11-12 February.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Unite’s engineering members at Diageo’s Leven plant are absolutely resolute in taking this multi-billion company head on.
“The weekend strike action will resume. Diageo should be under no illusions that our members are utterly resolute about securing a deal in this dispute. Unite stands with our members in their fight against the stunning corporate greed at Diageo.”
The union 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%.
Macgregor added: “The behaviour by Diageo has been nothing less than shocking during this pay dispute. Let’s remember that we are dealing with one of the UK’s richest companies who could very easily resolve this dispute with their billion-pound profits.”
A Diageo spokesperson said: “We strongly refute Unite’s claims that we have bypassed the collective consultation process. We are still committed to seeking a resolution with the very small number of employees who continue to take industrial action. In the meantime, our Leven site continues to operate safely.”