Diageo in Hot Water over Worker’s Rights
Trade union members at Diageo’s Leven, Cameronbridge and Shieldhall plants have voted for strike action, with Unite Scotland warning that operations could “grind to a halt” as a result. Members of trade union GMB Scotland working for Diageo have also voted for strike action.
In July 2019, members of both trade unions, GMB and Unite Scotland, rejected Diageo’s improved pay offer of 2.8% for its 1,500 Diageo employees, arguing that this would see its members worse off than in real terms. Workers had called the offer of a pay raise insulting – especially considering Diageo’s profits.
Recently, Diageo reported net sales of £12.9 billion in the last fiscal year, up 5.8% compared to 2018.
Diageo is also fighting a legal battle after a couple from Bonnybridge in Scotland sued the company over claims that ethanol evaporating from a nearby whisky maturation facility caused the formation of a black fungus, which caused £40,000 worth of damage to their home.
Pay talks fail, Diageo workers will go on strike
After last minute pay talks broke down, on the 16th of September, almost two-thirds of all Diageo workers plan to take part in a series of rolling strikes over 10 days, starting from 10pm on Tuesday 17th of September, according to representatives of the GMB and Unite unions.
Diageo made £4.2 billion in pre-tax profits, with union representatives saying “performances have improved by every indicator” but the company has claimed it cannot afford to match last year’s 3.2% pay increase, they have only offered a 2.8% pay increase.
The GMB said increasing the offer to match the cost-of-living increase would be equivalent to the price of a tank and a half of the company’s Tanqueray gin, or just 4% of Diageo chief executive Ivan Menezes’ annual pay.
It’s insatiable corporate greed and to claim that they can’t afford to improve their offer is just not credible,” said a GMB spokesperson, as per Yahoo News.
Union groups have stated they will continue with the strike, but is open to talks. Diageo has also stated they are open to discussion failing which they have a contingency plan in place for the strikes.
Diageo has amassed a long track record of unethical business practices in the pursuit of ever more profits
New offer made, strike called off
Strike action has been suspended in Diageo Scottish operations after management and unions struck a deal, shortly before the first of a wave of strikes was due to start at 10 pm on Tuesday the 17th of September.
The Unite and GMB unions said they would now consult their members on the new offer.
The offer is understood to be a two-year deal with a 3% rise this year and an increase in pay next year, in line with the retail price index (RPI) rate as it stands in June 2020. A new collective agreement will also be negotiated by then.
[This article was updated on 18/09/2019 according to new information reported on Yahoo News]
[This article was updated on 19/09/2019 according to new information reported on BBC]