The backlash against Diageo's decision to close two Scottish sites and cut 500 jobs picked up pace this week as Scotland's SNP government vowed to halt the proposals.

The drinks giant revealed two weeks ago plans to close two sites including the Johnnie Walker plant in Kilmarnock, shedding 700 jobs and ending a 120-year association with the town.

A further 140 jobs will be lost through the closure of its Port Dundas distillery in Glasgow, while 60 logistics jobs will be outsourced. However, Diageo plans to create 400 new jobs by expanding a Fife packaging facility, giving an overall net job loss of 500.

Scots finance secretary John Swinney has met with unions, politicians and locals to agree how to block the plans.

"Our priority is to ensure Diageo's proposals, which would have a serious impact on the Scotch Whisky industry and the Ayrshire economy in particular, are not implemented," he said. "We agreed to join forces and develop an alternative business proposal based on access to the financial information behind the company's original decision.

"Diageo must realise the social consequences of their financial proposals are not acceptable to the people of Scotland."

Officials from the Unite union, which is co-ordinating the campaign, met with Diageo management on Wednesday in a bid to resolve the dispute.

"Diageo is an internationally renowned name. It must not tarnish that good name by being responsible for consigning entire Scottish communities to the dustbin," said Unite assistant general secretary Len McCluskey "I appeal to them now to work with Unite to save the jobs of its loyal workforce today."

Diageo defended the cuts, saying: "These plans will be an important part of securing the long-term competitiveness of Diageo's Scottish business. Retaining all existing production activities in Scotland underpins the company's continuing commitment to Scotland."

This week Pernod Ricard announced 20 job losses from its UK sales and communications teams.