Trade unions Unite and GMB Scotland have announced their members at Chivas Brothers in Scotland have backed strike action.
The two unions represent hundreds of Chivas Brothers employees across the company’s Kilmalid, Dalmuir, Beith, Strathclyde and Strathisla distilleries in Scotland, and the Dumbuck warehouse, with around 800 staff expected to walk out following a formal ballot.
More than 60% of the Unite’s membership took part in the vote, with 91.2% of those supporting industrial action. Of those voting in GMB Scotland’s ballot, 89% supported strike action.
The unions are now warning that strikes in December will disrupt orders to shops, hotels and bars over the festive period, with workers preparing to strike in bottling halls in the weeks running up to Christmas.
Chivas Brothers had proposed a 6.4% pay increase, which was rejected by 97% of Unite members in October.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Strike action at Chivas Brothers is inevitable unless the current pay offer is improved. Chivas made an eye-watering profit last year, and it can easily afford to offer our members a significantly better offer.
“Unite will back our Chivas Brothers members all the way in the fight for better jobs, pay and conditions.”
Unite industrial officer Andrew Brown added: “Chivas Brothers are forcing hundreds of our members to choose between a real terms pay cut and strike action.
“The company are doing this while amassing a fortune of dizzying heights on the backs of our members’ hard work.
“Chivas Brothers have a final opportunity to give our members some well-deserved festive cheer or supplies of the company’s premier brands at one of the busiest times of the year will be hit hard.”
The Scotch whisky arm of Pernod Ricard, whose portfolio includes Chivas Regal, Aberlour, Ballantine’s and The Glenlivet, employs around 1,600 workers in Scotland.
The drinks company reported an organic sales rise of 10% in fiscal 2023.
David Hume, GMB Scotland organiser, said: “After a year when household bills rose again and again, our members have made clear they will not accept a pay rise that is, in reality, a pay cut.
“It would be unacceptable at any time but the company’s owners celebrating some of the highest-ever sales only add insult to injury.
“Huge profits are built on the shoulders of our members and they deserve to be paid fairly and receive an offer that recognises the value of their work.”
The company will be given two weeks’ notice of strike dates.
After the announcement of Unite’s ballot, a Chivas Brothers spokesperson commented: “We’re disappointed that a slight majority (59.6%) of total employees represented by Unite have voted for strike action.
“As a business, we firmly believe that our pay proposal strikes the right balance in ensuring salaries remain highly competitive in the context of a normalising business and economic environment, as further indicated by this month’s drop in inflation. Our current offer, combined with last year’s increase, would see salaries increase above the CPI and CPIH inflation averages seen over our last two financial years.
“We remain committed to our proposal and open to continued dialogue to see this matter reach a resolution.
“Should industrial action go ahead, we are prepared to put in place the necessary measures to ensure our continued business operations, minimising any impact to our customers around the world. As our end-of-year orders have already shipped, we are confident this ballot result will have no impact on the festive season.”
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Author: Lauren Bowes