In a statement released on 21 November 2023, Unite said that 91.2% of its members working at Chivas Brothers facilities across Scotland had backed taking industrial action, while it was confirmed the following day that 89% of GMB members also supported a strike.
The exact dates of the strikes have not yet been confirmed, with both unions calling on Chivas Brothers to up the offer before the walkout takes place.
Unite is the main union at Chivas Brothers, representing members at the Kilmalid, Dalmuir, Beith, Strathclyde Grain and Strathisla distilleries, as well as the Dumbuck warehouse facility among others.
Chivas Brothers employs around 1,500 workers in Scotland and produces Scotch whisky brands including Chivas Regal, Aberlour, Ballantine's, Royal Salute and The Glenlivet.
‘Christmas whisky supplies to be hit hard’
Reacting to the news, Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said that strike action is “inevitable” unless the current pay offer on the table is improved.
Unite industrial officer Andrew Brown, added: “Chivas Brothers are forcing hundreds of our members to choose between a real terms pay cut and strike action. Chivas Brothers have a final opportunity to give our members some well-deserved festive cheer or supplies of the company’s premier brands at one of the busiest times of the year will be hit hard.”
Meanwhile, GMB Scotland organiser David Hume described the current offer as equivalent to a “pay cut”.
Hume continued: “It would be unacceptable at any time but the company’s owners celebrating some of the highest ever sales only add insult to injury.”
Chivas Brothers ‘disappointed with decision’
In response to the announcements by the two unions, a Chivas Brothers spokesperson said that it was disappointed to see a “small majority” or 61% of its workforce back the decision to strike.
The spokesperson added: “As a business, we firmly believe that our pay proposal strikes the right balance in ensuring salaries remain highly competitive in the context of a normalising business and economic environment, as further indicated by this month’s drop in inflation.”
On the prospect of a deal being reached before the strikes take place, they said: “We remain committed to our proposal and open to continued dialogue to see this matter reach a resolution.
“Should industrial action go ahead, we are prepared to put in place the necessary measures to ensure our continued business operations, minimising any impact to our customers around the world. As most of our end-of-year orders have already shipped, we are confident this ballot result will have no impact on the festive season.”
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