More than 95% of the Unite members working for Chivas Brothers voted against a recent 6.4% pay rise proposal made by the manufacturer.
The trade union represents “hundreds” of workers at the company’s Kilmalid, Dalmuir, Beith, Strathclyde Grain and Strathisla distilleries, and Dumbuck warehouse facility among others.
As a result, Unite has warned Chivas Brothers that it will have “no option” but to ballot members over whether strike action should be taken. The union has called for a new offer to be submitted, citing the fact that inflation stood at 11.3% when the initial proposal was made.
Chivas Brothers employs more than 1,600 workers across Scotland and produces whisky for brands such as Chivas Regal, Ballantine's, Royal Salute and The Glenlivet. Headquartered in Paisley, it operates 26 sites and sold 496 bottles of whisky per minute in 2021.
Chivas Brothers ‘refusing to make fair offer’
Speaking after members rejected the initial pay offer, Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Chivas Brothers is getting dizzy on £168.5m in profits, which were achieved through the hard work of our members. Yet, the company is refusing to make a fair pay offer.
Graham added that the whisky manufacturer was “choosing” not to increase its offer and reiterated the support Unite would provide for members.
Meanwhile, Unite industrial officer Andrew Brown confirmed that members would be balloted unless there was “significant movement” on the initial proposal.
Brown continued: “Unite's hundreds of members at Chivas Brothers have emphatically rejected an unacceptable pay offer by 97 per cent. The offer on the table is in reality a significant real terms pay cut. Inflation was over 11 per cent when the pay rise was due.”
Longstanding Scottish employer
In response, a Chivas Brothers spokesperson said: “Chivas Brothers prides itself on being a longstanding Scottish employer, committed to its people and the communities it calls home. We have, and will continue to, reward our people competitively, while responsibly managing our business for the years ahead.
"We firmly believe that our offer strikes the right balance between ensuring our salaries remain highly competitive in the context of a normalising business environment, and enabling us to build a successful and sustainable future, for the long-term – as evidenced by our recent investments in distillery expansions and decarbonisation, site safety and our communities across Scotland."
In other news, while food and drink inflation fell for the sixth consecutive month during September 2023, the FDF has insisted that labour shortages and high input costs continue to impact manufacturers.