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Staff at whisky giants Chivas vote for strike action in row over pay

By Gavin Musgrove

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The Glenlivet is one of the most popular single malts in the world.
The Glenlivet is one of the most popular single malts in the world.

Workers at whisky giant Chivas Brothers have overwhelmingly backed strike action after pay talks collapsed.

Around 800 members of GMB Scotland and Unite unions will walk out after a formal ballot revealed widespread support for industrial action.

The unions warn 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.

The action comes after producer of global brands including Glenlivet, Chivas Regal, Ballantine's and Royal Salute rejected revising a pay offer of 6.4 per cent.

GMB Scotland announced results of the strike ballot earlier today with 89 per cent supporting action after an earlier consultative vote also revealed overwhelming levels of support for action.

David Hume, GMB Scotland organiser, said the ballot result only confirmed 'the anger and determination of workers to secure a better offer when Chivas and French parent company, Pernod Ricard, are recording unprecedented sales around the world'.

The Ricard family, owners of the multinational drinks giant which produces other well-known brands including Absolut vodka, Martell cognac, and Mumm champagne, is worth an estimated £5.8 billion.

Hume 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.”

Chivas employs around 1,600 workers in Scotland, including at Glenlivet Distillery and maturation sites and distilleries in Speyside, the Kilmalid bottling hall, in Dumbarton, Strathclyde Grain Distillery, Clydebank and Ayrshire.

The company will now be given two weeks’ notice of strike dates just months after reporting a 17 per cent increase in net sales, taking total sales to a 10-year high with sales surging by 30 per cent in international markets including India, China and Japan.

Scotch accounted for more than a fifth of the parent company’s sales last year which rose by 10 per cent to £10.5 billion.

Chivas has been approached for comment.

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