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Unite announces rolling Chivas Brothers strike action across Scotland

Published:  29 November, 2023

Workers union Unite has today (29 November) confirmed that over 500 members at Chivas Brothers distilleries and warehouses across Scotland are set for strike action in the coming weeks.  

The action follows a ballot of Unite’s membership which saw 90% in favour of the strike in dispute of what the union refers to as a ‘real terms pay cut’.

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

Unite members previously rejected a 6.4% pay offer and warned Chivas Brother on 17 October 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.

The strike action will involve a series of 24-hour stoppages across various Chivas Brothers facilities, including the Kilmalid, Strathclyde Grain and Strathisla distilleries between Monday 11 to Thursday 14 December. An overtime ban and short notice shifts ban will also be in effect from 11 December.

The union claimed that any forthcoming industrial action involving hundreds of its members will ‘hit hard’ festive season supplies of the company’s premier brands.

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.”

Unite industrial officer Andrew Brown, added: “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.

“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 the strike action, 
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, most of which have already shipped globally.”