UK: Gov't, unions to hold Diageo crisis talks

By | 14 July 2009

Scotland's government will hold talks with trade unions, councillors and politicians from opposition parties to discuss ways of persuading Diageo not to cut more than 10% of its whisky workforce in the country.

Government finance secretary John Swinney is scheduled to chair a meeting on the job cuts this evening (14 July).

Business development agency Scottish Enterprise, Glasgow City and East Ayrshire Councils, trade unions Unite and GMB and members of the Scottish and Westminster Parliaments are all expected to attend.

Diageo has provoked anger in Scotland with its plans to cut 900 jobs from its workforce of 4,500 in the country, largely by closing the Johnnie Walker whisky packaging plant in Kilmarnock and the Port Dundas distillery near Glasgow.

"With Diageo committed to holding a proper consultation on their proposals, the message they will receive loud and clear is that these proposals and their consequences are simply not acceptable," said Swinney, who is a member of the ruling Scottish National Party.

"We have requested the financial information behind Diageo's original decision and must now, working together with cross-party politicians, trade unions and business support professionals, work to progress an alternative business proposal."

Diageo has so far stuck to its position, arguing that the cuts are necessary to ensure the "long-term sustainability" of its Scotch whisky business. It plans to create 400 jobs at a new packaging site in Fife and has pledged that there will be no compulsory redundancies for 12 months.

Last week, UK Cabinet minister Harriet Harman criticised Diageo's decision in Parliament.

Sectors: Spirits

Companies: Diageo, Johnnie Walker

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