Macallan distillery faces potential strike

More than 300 workers across two Edrington sites, including The Macallan distillery, will be balloted for strike action by GMB Scotland over a pay dispute for unsociable hours.

Trade union GMB Scotland has served statutory notice of the ballot to Glasgow-headquartered Edrington, following months of consultation and ‘exhausting’ the conciliation process with the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas).

The dispute is over a failure to agree a new shift allowance rate for unsociable hours, GMB said.

Union members are seeking a ‘significantly above’ inflation shift allowance rate to support the basic rate of pay. This is against the backdrop of the ‘highest cost of living in 40 years and a year-long squeeze on incomes and households’, GMB said.

The union is balloting workers across two Scottish sites, Edrington’s global supply centre on Glasgow’s Great Western Road and The Macallan distillery on the Easter Elchies estate in Craigellachie, Moray.

The ballot process will take place from 1 to 22 March, meaning strike action could begin in April, GMB said.

GMB Scotland organiser David Hume said: “This is a dedicated and loyal workforce, and the real prospect of industrial action is not something they are taking lightly, but this ballot is a direct response to management’s chronic intransigence and a clear demonstration of their desire to make work better across Edrington.”

‘Deeply regrettable’

Hume noted Edrington, which also owns The Famous Grouse, Glenrothes and Highland Park, is in “good health” financially.

Scottish spirits firm Edrington saw its revenue soar by 45% to £821.2 million (US$988.8m) for the year ending 31 March 2022.

“It bounced back spectacularly from the pandemic last year on the back of increased sales and profits, and the boardroom and shareholders are enjoying the benefits of this in their bumper remuneration packages and dividends,” Hume said.

“This resilience and recovery are built on the back of its workforce and the premium brands they produce day in and day out. Our members across Scotland are the fulcrum of this success and it’s only right that they enjoy a fair share of the spoils in their terms and conditions.

“That senior management have failed to recognise this significant contribution through a proper shift allowance for workers who keep the products flowing is deeply regrettable. Let’s be clear, we are talking about the equivalent of a drop in the ocean from the sales and profits generated last year.”

‘Fair and competitive’

In response, Edrington called on its workers to reject the industrial action, stating that the company has already given a wage increase of at least 27.8% over the last 16 months.

“We are disappointed that the GMB Union has decided to ballot its members on industrial action after a protracted period of negotiation including discussions at Acas over shift allowances,” an Edrington spokesperson said.

“GMB members who have moved to the new shift arrangements will see their earnings increase by a minimum of 27.8% compared with 16 months ago. We urge our employees to reject the proposed industrial action and join us in negotiations to reach a further fair and competitive wage agreement.”

In 2018, The Macallan opened its £140m (US$188.4m) distillery on the banks of the River Spey.

The brand recently launched an interactive experience at London store Harrods to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the James Bond film franchise.

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Author: Nicola Carruthers

Timothy Kelly

Tim is the Founder & Master Distiller at Felene. He developed his passion for the spirits and hospitality business while growing-up and working in his family's restaurant and liquor store business. Tim’s passion for the epicurean lifestyle has found it’s latest manifestation in the Felene Distillery. Tim is a 5-time Gold Medal Award winning Distiller. He has won a Platinum medal at the Prestigious Los Angeles Spirits Awards and his signature vodka was named Best-in-Category by the American Distilling Institute. Mr. Kelly is also a prolific author and writer and his blog is filled with ideas, discoveries, observations and recommendations to help his readers enjoy life’s simple epicurean pleasures.

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