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Diageo under fire from First Minister

Published:  03 July, 2009

Diageo has come under attack from Scotland's First Minister and the chairman of a leading football club over its announcement that 900 jobs will go in Scotland over the next two years, 700 of them from the closure of a packaging plant in Kilmarnock.

First Minister Alex Salmond said the move would have "grave consequences" for the Scottish economy, following a meeting with Diageo Scotland managing director Brian Donaghey.

Salmond said: "The company has made billions of pounds out of Scotland and it must understand the full economic consequence of its proposals.

"Diageo has an obligation to let its workforce representatives know what's happening and to engage with the Scottish government and unions.

"Following the lack of notice in announcing these proposals, this must allow for a genuine consultation process involving all relevant parties."

Concern over the plans - announced this week - was also expressed by Michael Johnston, chairman of Kilmarnock Football.

In a statement on the club's official website, Johnston said: "The decision to close the Kilmarnock plant "must be reversed".

He went on: "Kilmarnock FC will support the employees whose jobs are under threat.

"The town has suffered huge job losses over the last 20 years and it's time that major corporations such as Diageo took a close look at how they are treating the people of Kilmarnock who have severed them so well for generations in developing brands such as Johnnie Walker."

Diageo has pledged no compulsory redundancies in the first 12 months after announcing the job cuts.