Whisky maker facing strike threat at three distilleries

By William Dodds

- Last updated on GMT

Whyte & Mackay is a whisky manufacturer based in Scotland. Credit: Getty / Leon Harris
Whyte & Mackay is a whisky manufacturer based in Scotland. Credit: Getty / Leon Harris

Related tags Beverages

Whyte & Mackay workers at three distilleries are voting on strike action, GMB Scotland has announced.

The ballot of GMB Scotland members working for Whyte & Mackay at its Dalmore, Invergordon and Tamnavulin distilleries opened on 7 May 2024 and is set to close on 24 May.

GMB Scotland announced the ballot after a consultative vote revealed widespread opposition among its members to a pay offer submitted by Whyte & Mackay.

The union said that the offer of between 5% and 6% is “not close to matching inflation over the last year”​ and represented “an insult”​ to workers. Whyte & Mackay claims that the recently rejected offer included a "6.8% award plus improvements to several benefits".

Concerns have also been raised about the installation of murals that cost hundreds of pounds at the Invergordon distillery.

According to GMB Scotland, Whyte & Mackay workers are now paid far less than staff elsewhere in the industry

Whyte & Mackay, which is owned by Philippine-based group Emperador, earned pre-tax profits for 2022 of £81.3m.

Lesley-Anne MacAskill, GMB Scotland organiser in the Highlands, said that the company had failed to engage its employees in talks to address their concerns and this has led to a vote being called.

“Our members in these three distilleries have shown great patience as pay talks dragged on month after month but their patience has a limit and that limit has been reached,”​ she added.

“The company is making record profits and its workers deserve to be recognised with a pay offer that fairly recognised their role in generating those profits.

“While Whyte & Mackay celebrates great commercial success, our members are struggling to make ends meet while being paid less than whisky workers elsewhere.

“In the absence of an acceptable offer, it can be no surprise that our members are considering industrial action.”

In response, Whyte & Mackay has issued the following statement: “We have received formal notification from GMB of their intention to ballot their members at a number of our sites regarding potential industrial action. As a business we continue to approach the negotiations in a spirit of open dialogue and we are naturally disappointed that, while negotiations started in November 2023, we have failed to reach agreement."

The statement concluded: "As a business we firmly believe that our pay proposal is fair and competitive.”

In other news, a 50-year-old man has been killed following an incident at a soft drinks production facility in Gloucestershire.

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