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Source: James Beeson

Unite has warned festive supplies of whiskies including The Glenlivet could be hit by the industrial action

Unite the union has confirmed more than 500 of its members at Chivas Brothers distilleries and warehouses across Scotland will strike in the coming weeks.

The industrial action would involve a series of 24-hour stoppages at various Chivas Brothers facilities from Monday 11 to Thursday 14 December, Unite said.

An overtime ban and short notice shifts bans would also be in effect from 11 December, it added.

It comes after 91.2% of Unite members voted in favour of striking last week.

Unite is the main union at the Pernod Ricard-owned Chivas Brothers. It represents workers at the Kilmalid, Dalmuir, Beith, Strathclyde Grain and Strathisla distilleries, and its Dumbuck warehouse facility.

GMB Scotland’s members are also set to strike at Chivas Brothers sites, after 89% of its members backed industrial action.

In total, around 800 staff are expected to walk out across Chivas Brothers’ facilities.

This, Unite warned, would cause supplies of popular whiskies including Chivas Regal, Aberlour, Ballantine’s, Royal Salute and The Glenlivet to be “hit hard” over the festive season.

Members had previously rejected a 6.4% pay offer by 97% in October, with Unite pointing to the after-tax profit of £168.5m made by Chivas Brothers in 2022.

“Chivas made an eye-watering profit last year, and it can easily afford to offer our members a significantly better offer, said Unite general secretary Sharon Graham.

GMB Scotland organiser David Hume, meanwhile, said the 10-year high in full-year net sales celebrated by Chivas Brothers in June added “insult to injury”.

“Huge profits are built on the shoulders of our members and they deserve to be paid fairly and receive an offer that recognises the value of their work,” he added.

Unite industrial officer Andrew Brown said Chivas Brothers had “a final opportunity to give our members some well-deserved festive cheer”. If they didn’t, “supplies of the company’s premier brands at one of the busiest times of the year will be hit hard”, he added.

Chivas Brothers’ said that – in spite of being served notice of industrial action – it stood by its pay offer.

A spokesman for the unit said the proposal – when added to pay increases implemented last year – ”would see salaries increase above the CPI and CPIH inflation average over the last two financial years.” 

They added their confidence that any disruption caused would not impact festive supplies.

“While we remain open to constructive dialogue to see this matter reach a fair and reasonable resolution, we have already put in place the necessary measures to ensure our continued business operations, minimising any impact to our customers around the world,” the spokesman said.

“Considering the proximity to the festive season, and our business resilience plans, we are confident the planned action will have no impact on end-of-year orders, much of which has already shipped globally,” they added.