Diageo staff vote for strike action

Staff at Diageo have voted to take industrial action in a dispute over pensions, which could impact its operations across Scotland, Northern Ireland and Cheshire in the run up to Christmas.

Diageo's London headquarters (Photo: Wiki)

Diageo’s London headquarters

Both GMB Scotland and Unite members voted in favour of action, which could take place in the run-up to Christmas, and are likely to affect all of Diageo’s 50 sites in Scotland, as well as other locations in Northern Ireland and Cheshire.

The dispute is over proposed changes to Diageo’s final salary pension scheme, which has seen unions accuse the spirits producers of “shameful corporate greed”.

“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,” said Louise Gilmour of GMB Scotland.

“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.”

Unite, which has more than 700 members at Diageo sites around the UK, said its ballot showed 82% in favour of industrial action short of a strike, and 77% in favour of strike action.

“No-one takes industrial action lightly – especially with Christmas coming up – but Diageo is behaving like Scrooge,”
said Unite regional officer Pat McIlvogue.

Diageo described the move as “clearly disappointing”, adding that it was “premature” as talks between the company and unions were ongoing.

In a statement, the producer said it had been engaged with employees and their representatives in a consultative review of the company’s UK final salary pension scheme since February this year.

“If and when strike action is taken the company will focus on ensuring that our business continues as usual as far as possible,” it said. “Strong plans are in place for this while we seek to move back into dialogue on the DPS.

“Management at Diageo remain committed to finding a sustainable solution on pensions that helps to manage the long term needs of employees in a competitive pension with the growing risk and cost to the Company of the DPS scheme. As such the company will seek to move back into discussions with unions and ACAS.”

Diageo will now seek to restart negotiations with GMB Scotland and Unite.

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