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Chivas Brothers faces strike action over wages

Employees at Chivas Brothers, owner of The Glenlivet Scotch whisky distillery, could be set to strike over a pay dispute.

Glenlivet Chivas Brothers
Chivas Brothers owns The Glenlivet Distillery, pictured

Trade unions GMB Scotland and Unite said staff at Chivas Brothers, the Scotch whisky arm of Pernod Ricard, would vote on strike action unless a ‘significantly improved’ offer was made.

GMB Scotland said Chivas Brothers, whose brands include Ballantine’s and Chivas Regal, is sticking to a 6.4% pay increase offer despite what it described as ‘surging sales’.

David Hume, GMB Scotland organiser, said the offer was unacceptable when Chivas and its French parent company, Pernod Ricard, have seen ‘unprecedented’ sales around the world.

He said: “Our members are being asked to accept a pay rise that is below the rate of inflation while reading how the owners are celebrating some of the highest sales ever recorded.

“Sales of the whisky made in Scotland are booming around the world but the workers making it are told they must accept an effective pay cut in the middle of a cost of living crisis?

“It is no surprise our members have refused that offer and are absolutely united in their willingness to take the action necessary to secure an offer that fairly reflects the value of their work.”

The salary offer was rejected by 97% of Unite members.

Sharon Graham, Unite general secretary, said: “Chivas Brothers is getting dizzy on £168.5 million (US$205m) in profits, which were achieved through the hard work of our members. Yet, the company is refusing to make a fair pay offer.

“Chivas can well afford it, it is just choosing not to – and our members will not have it – Unite will back them all the way.”

Parent company Pernod Ricard, which also owns Absolut Vodka and Jameson Irish Whiskey, reported an organic sales rise of 10% in fiscal 2023.

‘Committed to its people’ – Chivas responds

The Scotch whisky producer released a statement regarding the potential move to ballot for strike action.

A Chivas Brothers spokesperson said: “Chivas Brothers prides itself on being a longstanding Scottish employer, committed to its people and the communities it calls home.

“We have, and will continue to, reward our people competitively, while responsibly managing our business for the long years ahead.

“We firmly believe that our offer strikes the right balance, ensuring our salaries remain highly competitive in the context of a normalising business environment and enabling us to build a successful and sustainable future, for the long term – as evidenced by our recent investments in distillery expansions and decarbonisation, site safety and our communities across Scotland.”

In June 2021, the Scotch whisky producer avoided strike action across its Scottish operations after GMB and trade union Unite accepted an ‘improved’ wage offer from the company.

Chivas Brothers employs around 1,600 workers in Scotland.

Earlier this month, the company revealed investment plans to improve its bottling site in Kilmalid, Scotland.

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