Strike action in protest at whisky firm's 'insatiable corporate greed'

Unions have criticised the pay deal awarded to Diageo chief executive, Ivan Menezes.
Unions have criticised the pay deal awarded to Diageo chief executive, Ivan Menezes.
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Staff at one of Scotland’s biggest whisky producers are to go on strike in protest at what union organisers have described as its “insatiable corporate greed.”

Nearly 1,000 staff at Diageo sites across the country are to embark on a “rolling programme” of industrial action later this month following the collapse of pay talks.

GMB Scotland said the action was sparked by Diageo’s refusal to improve on its offer of a 2.8 per cent pay increase of staff, which was rejected following months of talks.

The union said that with pre--tax profits in excess of £4.2bn, and a 30 per cent pay award granted to Diageo’s chief executive, Ivan Menezes, the company had merely offered the workers “scraps from the fat cats’ table.”

However, the firm said it was committed to delivering a pay increase for staff, and said it was a "very good" employer.

Keir Greenaway, the GMB Scotland organiser, said: “Strike action across Diageo’s Scottish operations is a consequence of the insatiable corporate greed within the hierarchy of this company.

“Our campaign for a pay deal that beats the cost of living for our members and their families is a modest proposal against the backdrop of Diageo’s absolutely staggering financial results, which workers in Scotland have more than helped to deliver.”

He added: “A huge chunk of Diageo’s credibility and success is built on the back of Scotland and the working class and rural communities that distil, mature, store and bottle their lucrative range of whiskies and white spirits.

“It begs the question: Why has the company spent months low-balling unions with pay offers that fail to tackle the cost of living? If any business can afford to make work pay for its employees it is Diageo."

The union says the action, planned to run between 17 September and 27 September, will have a severe impact on Diageo’s bottling, maturation, and distilling operations, disrupting the production of well-known brands such as Johnnie Walker, Gordon’s, and Smirnoff.

A Diageo spokeswoman said: "We have well developed contingency plans in the event of industrial action.

"We are a very good employer and remain committed to seeking a resolution and ensuring our employees receive an increase on their pay, alongside maintaining the competitiveness of our operations."