Strike action targets Chivas Brothers’ festive supply season

Chivas Brothers distilleries and warehouses across Scotland will be hit by rolling strike action in the coming weeks, following rejection of the company’s latest pay offer.

Unite the union has today (Wednesday 29 November) confirmed that over 500 of its members across the company’s sites at Kilmalid, Dalmuir, Beith, Strathclyde Grain and Strathisla distilleries, and the Dumbuck warehouse facility, among others, will hold a series of 24 hour stoppages between Monday 11 and Thursday 14 December.

An overtime ban and short notice shifts ban will also be in effect from 11 December. The union stressed that its membership involved in the ballot supported taking strike action by an emphatic 91.2%.

Chivas Brothers has responded to say that while it remains open to ‘constructive dialogue to see this matter reach a fair and reasonable resolution’, it was confident the action would not impact upon its end-of-year orders, much of which had already shipped.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Chivas Brothers has made eye-watering profits and it can easily afford to offer our members a significantly better offer.  Its failure to make a fair offer is a classic example of a company putting profits before people.

“Unite does what it says on the trade union tin and always prioritises the jobs, pay and conditions of its members. The workers at Chivas will receive the union’s complete support.”

Earlier in the autumn, Unite members rejected a 6.4% pay offer by 97%. Unite then warned Chivas Brothers that it would have ‘no option’ but to ballot its members on strike action unless progress was made in pay negotiations. Inflation stood at 11.3% when the workers’ pay increase should have been implemented.

Unite has highlighted that Chivas Brothers Limited made a profit after tax of £168.5 million in 2022. In August, the company further announced that its July 2022 – June 2023 full-year net sales were up 17%, taking total sales to a 10-year high.

Unite industrial officer Andrew Brown, said: “Unite has repeatedly warned Chivas Brothers that strike action is inevitable unless the current pay offer was improved. It has not listened to our members and now industrial action is a matter of weeks away.

“The company should be in no doubt that our members are determined to get their fair share of the hundreds of millions in profit Chivas Brothers is coining in.”

Brown added: “The strike action Unite has announced will have a major impact on the company’s ability to supply premier brands over the festive season.”

Responding to Unite’s statement, a Chivas Brothers spokesperson said: “Although we have now been served notice of industrial action, we remain committed to our pay proposal, which – when combined with last year’s increase – would see salaries increase above the CPI and CPIH inflation average over the last two financial years.

“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.

“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.”