Diageo’s Scottish workers confirm plans to strike this month after pay dispute

Scottish workers at spirits giant Diageo have confirmed plans to strike this month after pay talks collapsed.

Unions said the company’s “insatiable corporate greed” has driven workers at bottling, maturing and distillery operations to start more than a week of strike action.

Last month, members of the GMB and Unite unions voted to support strike actions after months of lengthy pay talks.

Union members at the Johnnie Walker and Gordon’s maker dismissed a 2.8% annual pay increase offered by the company as being “derisory”.

GMB criticised the size of the pay increase after Diageo reported pre-tax profits of £2.4 billion for the most recent half-year and handed group chief executive Ivan Menezes a 30% pay hike to £11.7 million for the year.

The union has announced plans to start a rolling programme of strike action from September 17-27.

The announcement comes after final talks with the FTSE 100 firm collapsed last Friday after they refused to improve on the pay offer.

Staff frustrations come at a time when Diageo is ploughing large funds into a flagship Johnnie Walker visitor attraction in Edinburgh, as part of a £150 million investment in Scottish Whisky tourism.

The spirits group, which also makes Smirnoff and Guinness, has seen its share price rise by more than 20% since the start of the year on the back of strong gin and whisky sales.

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

“A rising tide should lift all boats but instead we have to suffer the grotesque spectacle of Ivan Menezes and his shareholders carving-up the spoils while workers in Scotland get thrown scraps from the fat cats’ table.

“It’s just not credible and we aren’t going to leave this unchallenged. Diageo must get real on pay or they will be hit with a sustained wave of strike action affecting many of their most profitable brands.”

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.”

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