Workers at Scotch whisky distiller Whyte & Mackay have “overwhelmingly” backed strike action at three sites in Scotland.

GMB Scotland, the union representing the employees, said four out of five members backed action including strikes at Dalmore and Invergordon distilleries in Easter Ross, and Tamnavulin in Speyside.

The union members were reportedly offered a pay rise of 6-7%, which was branded “an insult” as GMB said it does not match inflation over the last year and is “effectively a pay cut”.

In February, GMB said staff at the Dalmore and Invergordon distilleries had turned down an offer of at least a 5% increase.

The union expects to serve notice of strike action to take place in June “unless last-ditch talks requested by the company can forge an agreement”, it said in a statement today (29 May).

Lesley-Anne MacAskill, GMB Scotland organiser, said: “The support for industrial action at Whyte & Mackay is overwhelming but unsurprising.

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“Our members’ work has driven the company to record-breaking profits but has not been recognised or fairly rewarded in pay negotiations. Whyte & Mackay is celebrating unprecedented commercial success while our member continue to endure a cost of living crisis while being paid less than workers across the industry.

“The company should consider the results of this ballot and the clear determination of our members to take action in support of a fair pay award and improve its offer. If it does not, industrial action is now inevitable.”

MacAskill added that 82% of those who voted across the three distilleries backed industrial action in the ballot, with a turnout of more than 80%.

A Mackay & Whyte spokesperson said: “We have received formal notification from GMB of their intention to strike. We are disappointed that despite dialogue and a revised award of 6.8%, we have failed to reach agreement. As a business we firmly believe that our pay proposal is a fair and competitive offer.

“We believe that there is a route forward without the need for strike action and we remain committed to work to achieve that through dialogue with GMB. In the event of strike taking place we have plans in place to mitigate disruption and ensure continued business operation in order to minimise impact to our customers.”

According to accounts filed with Companies House, the UK company register, Whyte & Mackay generated revenue of £321.2m ($404m) in 2022, up 22.5% on 2021.

Its operating profit was £67.4m, 29.1% higher year on year.

Whyte & Mackay was acquired by Philippines-based drinks group Emperador in 2014. Last July, Emperador set out plans to invest in whisky maturation at the Invergordon distillery.

The Singapore and Philippines-listed company announced plans to double the size of the whisky maturation complex to 92 hectares.

The expansion was lined up to allow extra warehouses to be built over the coming decades, eventually housing up to an additional 1.5 million casks of maturing whisky, according to a statement from Emperador.