Diageo workers vote for industrial action

Workers at Scotch whisky and drinks giant Diageo have voted to take industrial action over the company’s plans to change their pension schemes.

The Unite union said its members voted overwhelmingly for industrial action at the company, whose brands include Johnnie Walker, Bell’s, Smirnoff and Guinness.

Unite said its members across Diageo’s UK sites voted 82% in favour of industrial action short of a strike, and 77% in favour of strike action.

Members of the GMB union also voted in favour of industrial action.

A Diageo spokesman said: “This is clearly disappointing and the company feels premature whilst we were in ongoing discussions.

“The company and employees are in a consultative process and have not yet moved into consultation on the alternative proposal.

“It is also far from the positive industrial relations of past decades that the company has had with its employees and which has helped build the reputation our supply business has today …

“If and when strike action is taken the company will focus on ensuring that our business continues as usual as far as possible.”

Unite said: “Diageo plans to change the Diageo Pensions Scheme into a career average scheme worth much less to members.

“The company also plans to close a separate scheme — the Diageo Lifestyle Plan — to new employees, and replace it with a new defined contributions scheme.”

Unite regional officer Pat McIlvogue said: “We are proud of our members, who have sent a clear message to Diageo that they must keep their pensions promises.

“No-one takes industrial action lightly — especially with Christmas coming up — but Diageo is behaving like Scrooge.”

The GMB Scotland union said Diageo could be hit by strikes in the run up to Christmas.

It said its workers at Diageo’s Scottish operations — including bottling plants at Leven and Shieldhall and distilleries across the country — voted for strike action by a majority of 63% and action short of strikes by a majority of 69.7%.


GMB Scotland organiser Louise Gilmour said: “Our members have sent a strong message to Diageo that the company needs to think again if it wants to avoid damaging strikes across Scotland.

“Diageo is happy to significantly increase executive pay in the wake of billions of pounds of profit but they won’t protect the pensions of the workforce who have contributed massively towards the success of the business. ”