Chivas Brothers workers vote on industrial action as pay talks stall

Against a background of surging premium spirits sales, workers at whisky giant Chivas Brothers are to vote on strike action following the collapse of pay talks.

The company, which produces global brands including Chivas Regal, Glenlivet, and Ballantine’s, has refused to revise its pay offer of 6.4%, prompting members of GMB Scotland and its sister unions to back industrial action in consultative ballots, triggering a formal vote.

GMB Scotland organiser David Hume described the 6.4% offer as ‘unacceptable’ when Chivas and French parent company, Pernod Ricard, were enjoying strong sales of whisky around the world. The company recently reported a 17% increase in net sales, powered along by a 30% lift in international markets including India, China and Japan, taking its total sales to a 10-year high.

“Our members are being asked to accept a pay rise that is below the rate of inflation while reading how the owners are celebrating some of the highest sales ever recorded,” said Mr Hume.

“Sales of the whisky made in Scotland are booming around the world but the workers making it are told they must accept an effective pay cut in the middle of a cost of living crisis? It is no surprise our members have refused that offer and are united in their determination to take the action necessary to secure an offer that fairly reflects the value of their work.”

A Chivas Brothers spokesperson commented: “Chivas Brothers prides itself on being a longstanding Scottish employer, committed to its people and the communities it calls home. We have, and will continue to, reward our people competitively, while responsibly managing our business for the years ahead.

“We firmly believe that our offer strikes the right balance between ensuring our salaries remain highly competitive in the context of a normalising business environment, and enabling us to build a successful and sustainable future, for the long-term – as evidenced by our recent investments in distillery expansions and decarbonisation, site safety and our communities across Scotland.”

Chivas employs around 1600 workers in Scotland, including at the Kilmalid in Dumbarton, Strathclyde Grain Distillery, Glenlivet Distillery and other maturation sites and distilleries in Speyside, Clydebank and Ayrshire. 

GMB Scotland said 97% of its members had backed strike action in the consultative ballot with the turnout just short of 100%, fully justifying the move to serve notice of a formal industrial action vote.