Distillery workers to walk out within days after rejecting latest pay offer

Distillery workers at whisky maker Whyte & Mackay are due to walk out next week after rejecting the company’s latest pay offer, a union has confirmed.

GMB Scotland members at three of the company’s distilleries will strike on Monday, followed by 11 days of walkouts in July and a further two weeks of industrial action in August.

It comes after 84% of GMB members at the company’s Dalmore and Invergordon distilleries in Ross and Cromarty, and Tamnavulin in Moray, voted to reject the company’s pay offer in a ballot, which saw a 90% turnout.

However the revised offer, which came on the back of last-ditch talks between the two sides, was accepted by staff at the company’s bottling and distribution sites at Grangemouth.

The union claimed Whyte & Mackay is making “record profits” and paid out almost £53 million in dividends to shareholders between 2019 and 2022, and that its highest paid director earned £710,000 in 2022 – 11 times more than the average salary in the company.

Lesley-Ann Macaskill, GMB Scotland organiser in the Highlands, said: “Whyte & Mackay is making record profits and expanding operations but is still paying workers less than other companies across the industry.”

She said the company should be “rushing to offer fair pay to our members because without their skill and experience, there would be nothing to bottle and nothing to distribute”.

A company spokesperson said: “Whyte and Mackay’s priority is to resolve this dispute. We continue to engage both our trade union partners to reach a sustainable resolution.

“We are pleased to have reached agreement with Unite, however, we are disappointed that this has not yet been possible with GMB.”

The walkout at Whyte & Mackay comes as GMB members at whisky maker Edrington, which makes The Macallan and Famous Grouse, are also being balloted on industrial action in an ongoing pay dispute.

The GMB said industrial action during the summer has the potential to disrupt supplies to stores and warehouses for Christmas.

Whyte & Mackay, which is owned by Philippine-based Emperador, operates Dalmore distillery at Alness in Ross and Cromarty; the nearby Invergordon grain distillery; Fettercairn in Aberdeenshire; Tamnavulin near Tomnavoulin, Moray; and Jura on the Hebridean island.