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Chivas Brothers strike could impact Christmas

Trade union Unite has confirmed Chivas Brothers members will be balloted for strike action over ‘unacceptable’ pay, which could impact supplies over the festive season.

The Glenlivet Chivas Brothers
The company’s portfolio includes The Glenlivet Scotch whisky

Unite represents hundreds of Chivas Brothers employees across the company’s Kilmalid, Dalmuir, Beith, Strathclyde and Strathisla distilleries across Scotland, and the Dumbuck warehouse.

The Scotch whisky arm of Pernod Ricard, whose portfolio includes the Chivas Regal, Aberlour, Ballantine’s and The Glenlivet, employs around 1,500 workers in Scotland.

The ballot opens today (30 October) and will close on 20 November.

Sharon Graham, Unite general secretary, said: “Strike action at Chivas Brothers is a step closer following the failure of the company to make our members a fair pay offer.

“Any strike action involving hundreds of Unite members will undoubtedly hit hard the supplies of the company’s premier whisky brands over the festive season.

“Let’s remember this is a company who can afford to pay far more as it made an eye-watering £168.5 million in profit. Unite will back our Chivas Brothers members all the way in the fight for better jobs, pay and conditions.”

The whisky maker has proposed a 6.4% pay increase, which was rejected by 97% of Unite members.

Parent company Pernod Ricard reported an organic net sales rise of 10% in fiscal 2023.

Andrew Brown, Unite industrial officer, said: “Unite’s hundreds of members at Chivas Brothers deserve to taste some of the £168.5m profit. The company also recently announced a 10-year sales high. Yet, there is a pay offer on the table which represents a real terms pay cut, which is totally unacceptable.”

The Spirits Business approached Chivas Brothers for a comment.

A Chivas Brothers spokesperson said: “We’re disappointed that employees covered by a bargaining agreement are being balloted for potential industrial action. However, we maintain our position and firm belief that our offer strikes the right balance between ensuring our salaries remain highly competitive in the context of a normalising business environment, while enabling us to build a successful and sustainable future for Chivas Brothers and its people, for the long term.

“As a business we have always sought to share our success with our teammates at every level across the organisation. We have, and will continue to, reward our people competitively, while responsibly managing our business for the years ahead. In real terms, if taken together with last year’s pay agreement, our current offer puts our proposed increase above the CPI and CPIH inflation averages seen over our last two financial years.

“Our recent investments in distillery expansions and decarbonisation, site safety and our communities across Scotland further demonstrate our dedication to our people and their futures. We sincerely hope that any industrial action can be avoided, but are confident that we can put in place the necessary measures to minimise the impact of any disruption on our business and our customers around the world.”

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