By Louise Donegan
Chivas workers at Dumbarton and Paisley have voted overwhelmingly for industrial action over a dispute regarding harmonisation of pay for the workers. The Paisley site is closing and the 460 full time workers will all be moved to a £40 million state of the art facility in Dumbarton, which has 600 workers.
Unite the union balloted their workers in Paisley last Friday with a massive 76.4% voting for strike action and 81.9% for action short of a strike. This was followed by the workers at Kilmalid voting 90.8% for strike action and 98.5% voted action short of a strike. In addition GMB members have also backed strike action in the ballot.
In March the French company Pernod Ricard, which owns the whiskey brand Chivas, offered members of Unite a 1.5% pay increase, backdated to July 2016, followed by 3 years of rises that would barely keep up with inflation and could see them lose money in real terms. They’d also lose a holiday premium from this month.
Unite urged the company to implement the harmonisation of pay and conditions immediately but the company say that this will not take effect until 2018. Unite say the increases in pay is both reasonable and affordable. Chivas was then asked to engage in further talks to avoid industrial action but the company responded by advising there would be no improved offer on the table.
In 2016 alone Chivas’ profit per employee was £171,000 and their group operating profits were £333 million. Their highest paid director was awarded a pay increase of 12% in 2016, taking his pay to a massive £1.04 million, yet they refuse to give workers immediate harmonisation of pay and a decent yearly pay increase.
Elaine Dougal, Unite’s regional coordinating officer says “Unite deals with many companies on a daily basis. The ones that respect their workforce and rewards them fairly reap the benefits of that relationship. Those that don’t seem hell bent on confrontation. But so be it. The door remains open for eleventh hour talks to avert industrial action”.