Pernod Ricard has agreed a pay deal with workers at its Chivas Brothers subsidiary after the Unite union threatened to hold pre-Christmas strikes.

The Scotch whisky producer will increase staff pay by 6.4%, effective from July this year, alongside a one-off payment of £500 ($634), in a deal accepted by an “overwhelming” number of Unite’s 500 Chivas Brothers members.

In October, 97% of union members rejected an offer of a 6.4% pay rise from Chivas Brothers.

As well as the one-off £500 payment, the latest deal includes a second pay increase in July 2024, based on the average inflation in the 12 months prior.

Unite industrial officer Andy Brown said: “Unite has delivered a significant improvement to the pay packets of our Chivas Brothers membership. The new two-year deal will help them cope with the ongoing cost of living crisis.

“We are pleased that we have negotiated an offer which has been overwhelmingly accepted by the membership bringing the dispute to an end.”

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A Chivas Brothers spokesperson said: “We are pleased that following the latest ballot, employees covered by bargaining agreements have now voted to accept our revised proposal, which avoids unnecessary strike action.

“The new deal includes an acceptance of our original pay proposal and enhanced benefits, along with the security of a two-year agreement.

“We are looking forward to continuing to work closely with all our employees to deliver our main business objective, which is the continued supply of our world-renowned whiskies to consumers all over the world.”

The deal follows several weeks of negotiations following notice of strike action at the end of November.

Unite halted planned industrial action on 5 December following an undisclosed pay offer.

Planned strikes involved a series of 24-hour stoppages between 11 and 14 December, as well as a ban on overtime and short-notice shifts.

Chivas Brothers employs around 1,500 workers in Scotland.

The union represents workers at Chivas Brothers’ Dumbuck warehouse, as well as distilleries at locations including Dalmuir, Beith, Strathclyde Grain, Kilmalid and Strathisla.

Brown said in November the union “repeatedly warned Chivas Brothers that strike action is inevitable unless the current pay offer was improved. It has not listened to our members and now industrial action is a matter of weeks away”. 

He added the strike would have “a major impact on the company’s ability to supply premier brands over the festive season”.

However, the Chivas Regal maker said at the time: “Considering the proximity to the festive season, and our business resilience plans, we are confident the planned action will have no impact on end-of-year orders, much of which has already shipped globally.”

Reporting its full-year financial results in August, Pernod Ricard posted a 10% rise in organic sales and an 11% increase in underlying operating profit for the year to the end of June.

Group net sales rose 13% to €12.14bn ($13.19bn). Profit from recurring operations was up 11% at €3.35bn. Net profit was 12% higher at €2.28bn.