Staff threaten Christmas strike action at Leven factory

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Workers at Diageo have voted to take part in a series of strikes in the run up to Christmas in row over pensions.

GMB Scotland members at the drinks manufacturer, including the plant at Leven, voted for strike action by a majority of 63 per cent and action short of strikes by a majority of 69.7 per cent, after a two week ballot.

The vote for industrial action came after Diageo decided to close its DPS ‘final salary’ scheme and also its ‘lifestyle’ plan to new workers in order to make a saving of £30m, despite recently increasing its operating profits to £2,841m.

Louise Gilmour, GMB Scotland Organiser, said: “Our members have sent a strong message to Diageo that the company needs to think again if it wants to avoid damaging strikes across Scotland.

“Diageo is happy to significantly increase executive pay in the wake of billions of pounds of profit but they won’t protect the pensions of the workforce who have contributed massively towards the success of the business.

“It’s another example of the obscene disparity between executive pay and the ordinary worker and if there is one company that can most certainly afford to sustain decent pension arrangements for its workers then it’s Diageo.

“It’s a question of fairness and Diageo can clearly go further to protect the pensions of their workers.”

A spokesman for Diageo said the result of the ballot was “disappointing” and “premature” whilst discussions to reach an outcome on the pension scheme were still ongoing.

He said: “The company and employees are in a consultative process and have not yet moved into consultation on the alternative proposal (which was recently discussed).

“It is also far from the positive industrial relations of past decades that the company has had with its employees and which has helped build the reputation our supply business has today.

“If and when strike action is taken the Company will focus on ensuring that our business continues as usual as far as possible.

“Strong plans are in place for this while we seek to move back into dialogue on the DPS.”

He added: “Management at Diageo remain committed to finding a sustainable solution on pensions that helps to manage the long term needs of employees in a competitive pension with the growing risk and cost to the company of the DPS scheme.

“As such the company will seek to move back into discussions with unions and ACAS.”