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Whyte & Mackay workers to vote on strike action

GMB Scotland is to ballot workers at Whyte & Mackay-owned Dalmore, Invergordon and Tamnavulin distilleries on strike action.

Whyte & Mackay Dalmore Distillery
The Dalmore distillery is based besides North Scotland’s waterway at the Cromarty Firth

The vote opened yesterday (7 May) and will close on 24 May.

Workers at the Dalmore and Invergordon distilleries in Easter Ross rejected an ‘insulting’ pay offer in February.

According to GMB Scotland, workers were offered a pay rise of between 5% and 6%, with 94% of members voting against the wage offer in a ballot, which the union described as ‘not close to matching inflation over the last year and effectively a pay cut’.

Whyte & Mackay has clarified that the latest offer was a pay rise of 6.8%, plus improvement to benefits.

Lesley-Anne MacAskill, GMB Scotland organiser in the Highlands, said: “Our members in these three distilleries have shown great patience as pay talks dragged on month after month but their patience has a limit and that limit has been reached.

“The company is making record profits and its workers deserve to be recognised with a pay offer that fairly recognises their role in generating those profits.

“While Whyte & Mackay celebrates great commercial success, our members are struggling to make ends meet while being paid less than whisky workers elsewhere.

“In the absence of an acceptable offer or serious negotiations, it can be no surprise that our members are considering industrial action.”

GMB Scotland claimed that Whyte & Mackay’s pre-tax profits for 2022 were £81.3 million (US$103m) in 2022, with a 20% increase in pay for its workers costing around £6.6m (US$8.3m).

Whyte & Mackay also operates Scotch whisky distilleries Fettercairn in Kincardineshire and Jura on the Hebridean island.

The Scotch firm is owned by Philippine producer Emperador, which last year announced a US$125 million expansion of its whisky and brandy production.

A spokesperson for Whyte & Mackay said: “We have received formal notification from GMB of their intention to ballot their members at a number of our sites regarding potential industrial action.

“As a business we continue to approach the negotiations in a spirit of open dialogue and we are naturally disappointed that, while negotiations started in November 2023, we have failed to reach agreement. The latest offer of a 6.8% award plus improvements to several benefits was rejected.

“As a business we firmly believe that our pay proposal is a fair and competitive offer.”

The Spirits Business reached out to Whyte & Mackay for comment.

Last year, workers at Chivas Brothers’ sites voted to strike, however action was placed on hold following a revised pay offer.

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