The two trade unions representing employees at Chivas Brothers in Scotland — Unite Scotland and GMB Scotland — announced Tuesday that their members have voted to back strike action at the company’s distilleries in Kilmalid, Dalmuir, Beith, Strathclyde, and Strathisla. As such, 800 laborers are expected to walk out on their positions following a formal ballot.
In the initial ballot put forth by Unite, more than 60 percent of Chivas Brothers employees responded, with 91.2 percent of those workers supporting industrial action. GMB Scotland received a similar response, with 89 percent of employees they represent supporting the strike. If the formal ballot sees the majority of union members voting in favor of industrial action, strikes could occur in December, having the potential to seriously impact orders to hotels, bars, and retail stores over the holiday season.
Pernod Ricard, whose Scotch whisky portfolio includes Chivas Regal, Aberlour, Ballantine’s, and The Glenlivet, reported a 10 percent organic increase in sales over the 2023 fiscal year. In October, Chivas Brothers proposed a 6.4 percent wage increase, which was shot down by 97 percent of Unite Scotland’s members in a vote. Pernod Ricard’s Scotch whisky branch currently employs around 1,600 workers in Scotland.
“Strike action at Chivas Brothers is inevitable unless the current pay offer is improved,” said Unite Scotland’s general secretary Sharon Graham. “Chivas made an eye-watering profit last year, and it can easily afford to offer our members a significantly better offer. Unite will back our Chivas Brothers members all the way in the fight for better jobs, pay, and conditions.”
David Hume, an organizer for GMB Scotland argued that the proposed pay raise is essentially a pay cut.
“It would be unacceptable at any time, but the company’s owners celebrating some of the highest-ever sales only add[s] insult to injury,” he said. “Huge profits are built on the shoulders of our members and they deserve to be paid fairly and receive an offer that recognizes the value of their work.”
In response, a Chivas Brothers spokesperson commented that the company is “disappointed” that a “slight majority” of employees have voted for strike action.
“As a business, we firmly believe that our pay proposal strikes the right balance in ensuring salaries remain highly competitive in the context of a normalizing business and economic environment, ” the spokesperson said.
If the formal ballot yields a vote in favor of striking, Chivas Brothers will be given a two weeks notice of strike dates. According to the Chivas Brothers spokesperson, end-of-year orders have already been fulfilled and the company currently has measures in place should strike ensue in order to minimize consumer impact around the globe.