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Diageo’s ‘105 job cuts a gross betrayal’ of staff

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Matt Atherton

By Matt Atherton+

21-Apr-2017
Last updated on 21-Apr-2017 at 13:33 GMT2017-04-21T13:33:29Z

Diageo was slammed by unions over its 105 job cuts (Flickr/Mustafa Khayat)
Diageo was slammed by unions over its 105 job cuts (Flickr/Mustafa Khayat)

Diageo’s plans to cut 105 jobs at its bottling plants in Glasgow and Fife have been slammed by unions as a “gross betrayal” of its workers.

Both the Unite union and the GMB union condemned the job cuts, after they said Diageo revealed plans to relocate some of its white spirit operations to Italy and the US.

Unite said there was “absolutely no justification” for Diageo to cut the 70 jobs at its site in Leven, Fife, and the 35 jobs in Shieldhall, Glasgow.

Unite regional officer Pat McIlvogue said: “This is a shocking betrayal of Scottish workers. This is not a company that is short of cash. There is absolutely no justification for Diageo to turn its back on Scottish workers, and leave scores of them without a livelihood.

“Scotland has been very good to Diageo. Workers in Scotland help make massive eye-watering profits for Diageo. For the six months to December 31 last year, it made an incredible £2.1bn. That was 16% up on the previous year.”

Diageo said it was committed to its three European spirits bottling sites, two of which are in Scotland. Moving the operations away from Scotland would improve its domestic and global supply chains, it claimed.

‘Strengthen our business for the future’

‘Brexit to blame’, union said
  • “Over one hundred skilled workers are now facing unemployment because Diageo are hedging their bets over Brexit – there is absolutely no getting away from this.”

A Diageo spokeswoman said: “Following the disposal of our wine business and the subsequent end of the wine bottling contracts, we have reviewed our spirits bottling footprint to ensure we not only deliver leading performance for both our domestic and export supply chains around the world, but also to strengthen our business for the future.

“Regrettably, these changes may impact some roles in our European bottling plants towards the end of the year and we will now enter a period of consultation with our employees and their representatives to discuss the proposals in more detail.”

But, the GMB union insisted the job cuts were sparked by Brexit.

GMB Scotland organiser Louise Gilmour said: “Over one hundred skilled workers are now facing unemployment because Diageo are hedging their bets over Brexit – there is absolutely no getting away from this.

“This is a gross betrayal of Scottish workers who have contributed significantly to the remarkable success of Diageo, and to the massive economic dividend our economy receives from whisky and white spirits manufacturing.

‘A gross betrayal of Scottish workers’

"GMB will do everything it possibly can to mitigate these cuts and we will refuse to accept any compulsory redundancies. But, let’s be clear that the UK government has been asleep at the wheel over Brexit, and it’s evidenced in these cuts today.”

The union claimed the Conservative government wasn’t listening to the real concerns of working people, and were just “off on the election trail asking voters to back them over Brexit, but the harsh realities of the decision to withdraw from the EU are already taking hold”.

Meanwhile, the union had warned Scottish secretary of state David Mundell last month that special measures we needed to protect Scotland’s drinks manufacturing sector against the backdrop of Brexit.

In a letter sent to Mundell on March 28, the union wrote: “It is very clear that our members do not believe the UK government is giving the attention to the industry it deserves.

“Thousands of our members depend on [the industry], and we demand that your government takes action to protect our members livelihoods post-Brexit”.

What they say about Diageo’s planned job cuts
  • “This is a shocking betrayal of Scottish workers. There is absolutely no justification for Diageo to turn its back on Scottish workers, and leave scores of them without a livelihood.”

Pat McIlvogue, Unite

  • “This is a gross betrayal of Scottish workers who have contributed significantly to the remarkable success of Diageo.”

Louise Gilmour, GMB

  • “Following the disposal of our wine business and the subsequent end of the wine bottling contracts, we have reviewed our spirits bottling footprint to ensure we not only deliver leading performance for both our domestic and export supply chains around the world, but also to strengthen our business for the future.”

Diageo

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