Strikes over pension cuts are set to hit the drinks giant leading up to Christmas

Courtney Goldsmith
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Workers are striking over pension cuts. (Source: Getty)

Strikes are set to hit Diageo in the weeks up to Christmas.

Workers at the global drinks giant voted for industrial action over cuts to their pensions, the GMB union said.

The employees work in Diageo's Scottish operations, including bottling plants at Leven and Shieldhall and distilleries across the country.

The company had been reviewing the pension scheme with employees since February. GMB said the company is after savings of £30m a year by closing its "final salary" scheme and its "lifestyle" plan to new entrants.

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After discussions, GMB and Unite, the joint unions of employees, said they did not support the new pension scheme proposal and chose to ballot their members today, which passed with a majority of 69.7 per cent.

In a statement, the company said they were disappointed by the outcome, which they felt was premature as discussions are still ongoing.

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The statement said: "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.

"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."

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GMB Scotland Organiser Louise Gilmour said: "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."

According to the union, Ivan Menezes, Diageo's chief executive, was awarded a 12 per cent pay increase, taking his maximum earnings to £8.8m.

Diageo owns the top two largest spirits brands in the world, Smirnoff and Johnnie Walker. Other owned brands include Tanqueray gin, Captian Morgan rum and Guiness.

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