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Hundreds of whisky workers to go on strike during festive period

Workers at Chivas Brothers sites across Scotland are due to take strike action next month
Workers at Chivas Brothers sites across Scotland are due to take strike action next month

HUNDREDS of whisky production workers will take strike action during the busy festive period in a dispute over pay and conditions.

More than 500 Unite members, as well as GMB members, will walk out in a series of 24-hour stoppages at various Chivas Brothers facilities across Scotland between December 11 and 14 after rejecting a pay increase.

Workers at the Kilmalid, Dalmuir, Beith, Strathclyde Grain and Strathisla distilleries, and Dumbuck warehouse facility, among others, will take part in the action.

GMB members at 21 sites across Scotland will also take part in the walkout including at the Kilmalid bottling hall, in Dumbarton; Strathclyde Grain Distillery; Glenlivet Distillery; and other sites in Speyside, Clydebank and Ayrshire.

Workers in the Highlands will strike on Tuesday, December 12 at sites across the region including the Aberlour, Glenlivet, Strathisla, Glentauchers, Braeval, Miltonduff and Dalmunach distilleries and Keith bonds.

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An overtime ban and short notice shifts bans will also be in place from December 11.

The unions warned the action could hit festive supplies of premier brands.

GMB Scotland said the strikes were called after workers voted overwhelming in support of action as Chivas and French parent company, Pernod Ricard, record unprecedented sales.

The industrial action come just months after Chivas reported a 17% increase in net sales, taking total sales to a 10-year high with sales surging by 30% in international markets, the GMB claimed.

Unite’s membership involved in the ballot supported taking strike action by an 91.2%.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Chivas Brothers has made eye-watering profits and it can easily afford to offer our members a significantly better offer.

“Its failure to make a fair offer is a classic example of a company putting profits before people.

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“Unite does what it says on the trade union tin and always prioritises the jobs, pay and conditions of its members.

“The workers at Chivas will receive the union’s complete support.”

Unite members previously rejected a 6.4 per cent pay offer by 97 per cent.

Earlier this year, the union said they would have “no option” but to ballot members on strike action unless progress was made in pay negotiations.

Unite industrial officer Andrew Brown, said: “Unite has repeatedly warned Chivas Brothers that strike action is inevitable unless the current pay offer was improved. It has not listened to our members and now industrial action is a matter of weeks away.

“The company should be in no doubt that our members are determined to get their fair share of the hundreds of millions in profit Chivas Brothers is coining in.

“The strike action Unite has announced will have a major impact on the company’s ability to supply premier brands over the festive season.”

David Hume, GMB Scotland organiser, said: “In a cost-of-living crisis, our members are unwilling to accept what is effectively a pay cut when this company is making huge profits and reporting record sales.

“Those profits and those sales are only made possible by the skill, expertise and hard work of our members and they deserve an offer that recognises that.”

A Chivas Brothers spokesperson: “Although we have now been served notice of industrial action, we remain committed to our pay proposal, which – when combined with last year’s increase – would see salaries increase above the CPI and CPIH inflation average over the last two financial years.

“While we remain open to constructive dialogue to see this matter reach a fair and reasonable resolution, we have already put in place the necessary measures to ensure our continued business operations, minimising any impact to our customers around the world.

"Considering the proximity to the festive season, and our business resilience plans, we are confident the planned action will have no impact on end-of-year orders, most of which have already shipped globally.”