Strikes are set to begin at all three of Whyte & Mackay’s Scotch whisky distilleries next week after staff were split on backing the company’s latest pay offer.

Workers represented by the Unite trade union accepted the proposal but it was rejected by members of GMB Scotland, the Dalmore whisky brand owner confirmed.

The result means GMB Scotland workers will still go ahead with strikes planned for 24 June, 11 days in July and in two weeks in August.

Unite members, who were originally due to strike on Thursday (20 June), are mostly based at Whyte & Mackay’s distribution centre in Earlsgate and a nearby supply-chain facility in Grangemouth, the Fettercairn Scotch producer said.

These sites involved a “larger number of people”, meaning that its “supply chain, despatch and delivery to… customers and distributors is unaffected by industrial action at this time”, Whyte & Mackay added.

GMB Scotland workers include a “relatively small proportion” of weekly-paid employees at its Invergordon distillery, “plus a very small number” at the Tamnavulin and Dalmore production sites.

How well do you really know your competitors?

Access the most comprehensive Company Profiles on the market, powered by GlobalData. Save hours of research. Gain competitive edge.

Company Profile – free sample

Thank you!

Your download email will arrive shortly

Not ready to buy yet? Download a free sample

We are confident about the unique quality of our Company Profiles. However, we want you to make the most beneficial decision for your business, so we offer a free sample that you can download by submitting the below form

By GlobalData
Visit our Privacy Policy for more information about our services, how we may use, process and share your personal data, including information of your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications. Our services are intended for corporate subscribers and you warrant that the email address submitted is your corporate email address.

The parties had been in talks around a revised pay offer last week, which workers were set to vote on last Friday (14 June).

“Whilst we are pleased that the revised offer was accepted by Unite we are disappointed that GMB members rejected the offer”, Whyte & Mackay said in a statement.

“GMB have informed us that they are now planning for industrial action to commence next week, we have therefore begun to implement continuity plans to manage supply and mitigate impact to customers.”

Whyte & Mackay told Just Drinks it was open to further talks with GMB Scotland “but no date has been set”.  

Commenting on the result, Scott Foley, Unite industrial officer, said its members had accepted a revised pay offer “worth 10% over two years”. He said the deal is set to benefit approximately “120 Unite members based at the Grangemouth bottling plant, Earlsgate distribution centre and Invergordon distillery”.

Foley added: “The pay deal for our members only came about because of their determination to fight for fair pay and by taking strike action if necessary. On this occasion industrial action by Unite members will not happen.

“However, we are putting Whyte & Mackay on notice that going forward they must treat their workers with respect and pay negotiations for our next round of pay talks must be handled significantly better than the protracted discussions that have recently taken place.”

Responding to the vote from its members, Lesley-Ann MacAskill, GMB Scotland organiser in the Highlands, said: “The company’s rush to suggest distilleries are somehow less important than bottling and distribution operations was insulting and inflammatory.

“It should instead have been rushing to offer fair pay to our member because without their skill and experience there would be nothing to bottle and nothing to distribute.

“The company must understand that such ill-considered and disrespectful comments today will have consequences tomorrow.

“It was a dirty trick and an obvious attempt to divide the workforce.

“That is both disappointing and self-defeating because it has only hardened our members’ determination to be paid fairly.”

Responding to the union’s statement, Whyte & Mackay said it did “not recognise the substance of the statement regarding the negotiations” and that it had “acted in accordance with legal advice, and approached the negotiation in an open and transparent manner throughout.”