Workers at Chivas Brothers have voted overwhelmingly for strike action with the union claiming it will hit festive supplies “hard”.
Unite, which is the main union at the company, said members had supported strike action by an “emphatic” 91.2%.
It comes after the company refused to revise a pay offer of 6.4%, despite reporting its strongest financial year in a decade.
The union claimed that any forthcoming industrial action involving hundreds of its members will “hit hard” festive season supplies of the company’s premier brands.
French-owned Chivas employs around 1,600 workers in Scotland at sites including Miltonduff Distillery, near Elgin, and Glentauchers Distillery, near Keith.
It also operates Strathisla Distillery in Keith – home to iconic brand Chivas Regal.
‘Easily afford’ a better offer
Unite general-secretary Sharon Graham is hoping the current pay offer is improved.
She said: “Strike action at Chivas Brothers is inevitable unless the current pay offer is improved.
“Chivas made an eye-watering profit last year, and it can easily afford to offer our members a significantly better offer.
“Unite will back our Chivas Brothers members all the way in the fight for better jobs, pay and conditions.”
Unite members previously rejected a 6.4% pay offer by 97%.
It warned Chivas Brother last month it would have “no option” but to ballot its members on strike action unless progress was made in pay negotiations.
In August Chivas announced its net sales were up by 17%, making it the best financial year in a decade.
Give workers ‘festive cheer’
The company also recently announced a 10-year sales high.
Andrew Brown, Unite industrial officer, said: “Chivas Brothers are forcing hundreds of our members to choose between a real terms pay cut and strike action.
“The company are doing this while amassing a fortune of dizzying heights on the backs of our members’ hard work.
“Chivas Brothers have a final opportunity to give our members some well-deserved festive cheer or supplies of the company’s premier brands at one of the busiest times of the year will be hit hard.”
Chivas Brothers ‘confident’ it won’t affect festive sales
A Chivas Brothers spokeswoman said: “We’re disappointed that a slight majority (59.6%) of total employees represented by Unite have voted for strike action.
“As a business, we firmly believe that our pay proposal strikes the right balance in ensuring salaries remain highly competitive in the context of a normalising business and economic environment, as further indicated by this month’s drop in inflation.
“Our current offer, combined with last year’s increase would see salaries increase above the CPI and CPIH inflation averages seen over our last two financial years.
“We remain committed to our proposal and open to continued dialogue to see this matter reach a resolution.
“Should industrial action go ahead, we are prepared to put in place the necessary measures to ensure our continued business operations, minimising any impact to our customers around the world.
“As our end-of-year orders have already shipped, we are confident this ballot result will have no impact on the festive season.”