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Scottish drinks workers say scrap MUP

Workers in Scotland’s drinks industry fear a proposed increase to minimum unit pricing (MUP) will risk jobs without reducing problem drinking, a survey has found.

The Scottish government’s consultation ended on 22 November

Trade union GMB Scotland surveyed its members following the news that the Scottish government was launching a consultation on increasing MUP from 50p per unit to 65p.

Most respondents (63%) said the MUP should be scrapped entirely. A third (33%) thought that it should remain at 50p or be reduced.

One distillery worker told researchers: “Increasing the MUP will only have a detrimental effect on one of Scotland’s success stories.

“Why is the government intent on penalising a sector that employs thousands of people across the country?”

Another drinks industry worker taking part in the survey told the union: “Minimum pricing has not worked. It has only increased the profits of the supermarkets and off-licences that sell alcohol.

“If the government wanted to make a difference, the extra tax should have been used to fund more alcohol awareness centres and treatment facilities.”

David Hume, GMB Scotland organiser in the drinks industry, said: “There is simply no case for continuing to impose a minimum unit price on alcohol never mind increasing it.

“The jury is out on the policy’s impact on Scotland’s drinking, but alcohol-related deaths are rising and there is no evidence to suggest it is helping protect problem drinkers.

“The actual impact of minimum pricing is, at best, questionable and ministers should be asking those questions instead of doubling down by increasing it.

“Meanwhile, workers in the drinks industry – our members – report pay being squeezed and a chill on investment that will risk growth and jobs in one of Scotland’s most important sectors.

“Instead of pursuing policies that undermine this crucial industry, ministers should bolster it with an industrial strategy capable of improving skills and pay and boosting investment.”

Last month, we spoke to the industry about the consultation, with most rejecting the idea that an increase in MUP was needed.

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