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20,000 demand Diageo u-turn

Published:  27 July, 2009

Tens of thousands of Scots took to the streets of Kilmarnock at the weekend demanding that Diageo scraps plans for the axing of 900 jobs in two major sites.

Scotland's first minister, Alex Salmond, also applied pressure on the global drinks firm saying: "5.1 million people want Diageo to change their minds".

In Kilmarnock, Diageo workers were joined by union chiefs, former employees and the rally heard calls for the decision to close the town's Johnnie Walker bottling plant and the Port Dundas grain distillery to be reversed.

The Johnny Walker brand has had a presence in Kilmarnock since 1820.

A Diageo spokesman said that the company understood the depth of public feeling over its restructuring plans.

Alex Salmond said: "Today's march and rally demonstrated that the people of Scotland stand behind Kilmarnock and the campaign to keep Diageo in the town.

"This rally marks another step forward in the joint campaign to persuade Diageo of the substantial economic advantages in retaining their long-established and hugely beneficial links with the communities of Scotland."

The Diageo spokesman added: "We continue to be in a formal consultation with employee representatives, and are working with the consultants appointed by Scottish Enterprise."