Diageo to cut more than 100 Scottish jobs over Brexit concerns, says GMB union

The union has accused the Government of 'gross betrayal'

Zlata Rodionova
Thursday 20 April 2017 16:16
Diageo’s drinks brands include Guinness, pictured, Smirnoff and Captain Morgan rum
Diageo’s drinks brands include Guinness, pictured, Smirnoff and Captain Morgan rum

GMB union has accused the UK government of “gross betrayal” after drinks company Diageo announced plans to cut more than 100 jobs across its Scottish operations because of concerns over Brexit.

Workers and trade unions were informed on Thursday afternoon that 70 redundancies will be made at Diageo’s Leven plant in Fife and a further 35 redundancies at its Shieldhall site, near Glasgow.

Diageo, which owns drinks brands including Baileys, Smirnoff and Guiness, confirmed the cuts are part of a review process which will see selected white spirits production moved to the company’s Santa Vittoria plant in Italy and to plants in the US.

GMB Scotland earlier this year warned the UK government’s Scottish Secretary David Mundell about the need for special measures to protect Scotland’s drinks manufacturing sector against the backdrop of Brexit uncertainty.

“We warned David Mundell and the UK government about the possible impact of Brexit on the future of jobs across our drinks manufacturing sector and about the need for protective measures to safeguard an industry worth billions to the Scottish and UK economies,” Louise Gilmour, GMB Scotland Organiser, said.

“Instead of listening to the real concerns of working people and acting on them, the Tories are off on the election trail asking voters to back them over Brexit but the harsh realities of the decision to withdraw from the EU are already taking hold,” she added.

“This is a gross betrayal of Scottish workers who have contributed significantly to the remarkable success of Diageo and to the massive economic dividend our economy receives from whisky and white spirits manufacturing.”

A Diageo spokesperson confirmed about 100 jobs will be affected and that it will do everything to mitigate the impact on its staff: “Following the disposal of our wine business and the subsequent end of the wine bottling contracts, we have reviewed our spirits bottling footprint to ensure we not only deliver leading performance for both our domestic and export supply chains around the world, but also to strengthen our business for the future.

“Regrettably, these changes may impact some roles in our European bottling plants towards the end of the year and we will now enter a period of consultation with our employees and their representatives to discuss the proposals in more detail.

“We are committed to our three spirits bottling sites in Europe – two in Scotland and one in Italy. The outcomes of this review will ensure we have the flexibility to respond to increased competition and external volatility, alongside testing and building the capability we need across our global supply chain to grow our brands.”

Union representatives are scheduled to meet senior executives early next week when redundancy time frames are expected to be confirmed.

"This is the cold sober reality of a hard Conservative Brexit. Diageo is a huge employer in parts of Fife and Glasgow that needs these jobs," Willie Rennie, leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats and MSP for North East Fife, said.

"The Conservatives need to explain to the workers at these plants why they soon won't be getting a wage at the end of the month. Liberal Democrats are giving the voters in the general election a choice to change the direction of the country. We can turn back from the economic consequences of Brexit if we choose," he added.

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