STAFF at whisky giant Diageo’s plant in Fife are set to take months-long strike action in a dispute over pay. 

Unite has confirmed its members working at the Leven plant will stage a 48-hour walkout from Saturday, with a series of further stoppages then scheduled to take place ending on April 3.

Diageo – which produces brands like Johnnie Walker and Smirnoff – has incensed members after allegedly introducing a lower rate of pay for new starts without consultation, according to the union. 

Unite says the issue has been ongoing and was first raised through the grievance process in 2019.

However, the company has denied it is introducing this lower rate saying the strike action concerns weekend shift engineers "in relation to the number of night shifts required and associated shift premiums". 

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Unite has accused Diageo of a “race to the bottom” after it reported operating profits were up 18.2% to £4.4 billion in July last year with net sales up 21.4% to £15.5bn.

It is estimated some of Unite’s engineering members are set to lose around 6% of their pay when moved to the alleged lower rate.

The company has an estimated 27,987 employees.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: Diageo recently recorded £4.4bn in profits which equates to a profit of around £157,000 being generated by every employee.

“They are awash with billions in profit so to then attempt to cut our members’ pay is a shocking example of corporate greed.

“Unite will always stand with our members to protect pay, terms and conditions.”

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The strike action will directly impact on the engineering support for the bottling plant. Unite believes it would not be safe to run the plant without the support its members provide.

Unite regional officer Bob Macgregor added: Diageo is one of the most profitable companies in the UK yet they are proposing to cut our members’ pay which is completely unacceptable.

“The reason why Diageo is able to generate billions in profits is because of the skilled work of its workforce.

“Our engineering members who keep the bottling plant safe to operate at Leven have been left with no choice but to take a stand against Diageo.

“The strike action will continue until they get what they deserve.”

A Diageo spokesperson said: “This dispute is with 10 of our weekend shift engineers in relation to the number of night shifts required and associated shift premiums. 

"We are not introducing a lower rate of pay for new starters. 

"We are proud of the pay and benefits packages we provide to our people across all our sites, but unfortunately, this group of 10 employees have rejected our proposal.

"We have well-developed contingency plans in place to ensure the site can continue to operate safely and as planned. We remain committed to seeking a resolution to this dispute and are open to further discussions.”