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Whisky plant workers to strike in dispute over pay

Workers at a whisky plant in Fife are set to walk out in a dispute over pay, a union has said.

Members of Unite at Diageo in Leven will walk out on Saturday for 48 hours, with a series of further stoppages scheduled to take place ending on April 3.

Unite claims a lower rate of pay for new-starts has been introduced without consulting unions and that the issue had been ongoing since 2019.

Engineering members could also lose around 6% of their pay when moved to the lower rate, Unite said.

Diageo said it is not introducing a lower rate of pay for new starters and said the dispute relates to shift arrangements for the 10 people taking industrial action.

Strikes will directly impact the engineering support for the bottling plant, Unite said, claiming it will not be safe to run it without the members who are walking out.

Sharon Graham, general secretary of Unite, said: “Diageo recently recorded £4.4 billion in profits, which equates to a profit of around £157,000 being generated by every employee.

“They are awash with billions in profit so to then attempt to cut our members’ pay is a shocking example of corporate greed. Unite will always stand with our members to protect pay, terms and conditions.”

Industrial strike
Sharon Graham said Unite will stand with its members at Diageo (Jacob King/PA)

Unite regional officer Bob Macgregor added: “Diageo is one of the most profitable companies in the UK yet they are proposing to cut our members’ pay, which is completely unacceptable.

“The reason why Diageo is able to generate billions in profits is because of the skilled work of its workforce.

“Our engineering members who keep the bottling plant safe to operate at Leven have been left with no choice but to take a stand against Diageo. The strike action will continue until they get what they deserve.”

A Diageo spokesperson said: “This dispute is with 10 of our weekend shift engineers in relation to the number of night shifts required and associated shift premiums.

“We are not introducing a lower rate of pay for new starters.

“We are proud of the pay and benefits packages we provide to our people across all our sites, but unfortunately this group of 10 employees have rejected our proposal.

“We have well-developed contingency plans in place to ensure the site can continue to operate safely and as planned.

“We remain committed to seeking a resolution to this dispute and are open to further discussions.”