Scottish Diageo workers reject 'insulting' pay offer

Bottles of alcohol produced by Diageo Image copyright Diageo

Scottish Diageo workers could be set for strike action after they rejected a pay offer from the spirits giant.

Unite the union said its members voted by 95% to reject the company's "insulting" offer of a 2.5% pay increase.

It now plans to ballot its members at the firm for strike action.

A spokeswoman for Diageo said they were open to continued talks with the Unite and GMB unions to secure an "acceptable resolution".

Staff frustrations come at a time when Diageo is ploughing large funds into a flagship Johnnie Walker visitor attraction in Edinburgh, as part of a £150m investment in Scottish whisky tourism.

As well as Johnnie Walker, the spirits group also makes Smirnoff vodka, Tanqueray gin, Baileys and Guinness,

It has seen its share price rise by more than 20% since the start of the year on the back of strong gin and whisky sales.

In January it said that operating profits for the six months to December 2018 had risen to £2.4bn, up 11% on the same period a year earlier.

Image copyright Diageo
Image caption The planned Johnnie Walker "whisky experience" will be in the former House of Fraser building in Edinburgh

The union said that workers deemed the pay offer as "paltry" given improvements in sales and profitability.

Its members voted overwhelmingly to reject the offer in a poll with 92% turnout.

Bob McGregor, Unite regional industrial officer, said: "This offer is not only insulting, it's disgusting given the profits made off the backs of hard working Unite members, who deserve a fairer share of the profits they generate for this hugely successful company.

"Diageo appears willing to spend millions creating a whisky shop for Edinburgh's tourists, while offering the workers who built the Diageo brands we all know and recognise, a paltry 2.5%."

Separate negotiations over pay increases have taken place with staff at its sites in England and Ireland.

The GMB union said its members had also rejected the offer by a large majority in a consultative ballot.

GMB Scotland Organiser Keir Greenaway said: "It's a clear message that Diageo needs to do more and no one, least of all the employer, should be surprised.

"Next week Diageo will post another bumper set of financial results and operating profits could well pass the £4bn mark.

"Our members help to play a vital role in this success story and it's only right they should expect a fair share of the rewards."

'Strong reward package'

A Diageo spokeswoman said: "Annual wage negotiations have been taking place with both the GMB and Unite unions in Scotland.

"Following a consultative ballot of their members, the unions have rejected our offer, equal to an increase of 2.8% on overall benefit and pay packages for our employees.

"This offer is made in the context of maintaining a strong reward package and the need for our manufacturing operations to remain competitive.

"Unite have informed us that they now plan to progress to a ballot for industrial action and we remain open to continued talks to secure an acceptable resolution."

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