Hundreds of Diageo workers will be asked to vote for strike action during a three-week ballot later this month, it has emerged.
GMB Scotland and its sister trade union Unite will ballot their members for industrial action from Monday November 7 until noon on Monday November 21 in an ongoing dispute over pensions.
Diageo – who recently reported operating profits of over £2.8 billion – moved to impose the closure of its long-standing final salary scheme and will also close its ‘lifestyle plan’ scheme to new entrants, while introducing a new and inferior defined contribution scheme.
GMB and its sister trade union Unite had entered into prolonged negotiations at ACAS to resolve the dispute but a consultative ballot of the unions’ respective memberships comprehensively rejected the company’s improved offer.
Diageo, which has a number of sites in Levenmouth and Kirkcaldy, has already described news of the ballot as “clearly disappointing”.
GMB Scotland organiser Louise Gilmour said: “Diageo’s ability to help fund a decent pension that delivers dignity in retirement for our members is unquestionable but their willingness to pay is highly questionable.
“We have engaged in extensive and painstaking negotiations with Diageo at ACAS, presenting alternative proposals for the sustainability of the pension schemes while making every reasonable effort possible to avoid a dispute.
“But we have to draw a line in the sand and show that we are not prepared to accept a race to the bottom on pensions while the company makes billions off the back of our hard-working members who have contributed massively to the success of this business.
“It’s a question of fairness and there is no question that Diageo can afford to provide a decent pension for its workers.”
A Diageo spokesperson said: “This is clearly disappointing, not in accordance with the positive industrial relations Diageo has had with its employees and is premature, since the company has not moved into formal consultation on the alternative proposal with its employees.
“Management at Diageo remain committed to finding a sustainable solution on pensions that manages the growing risk and cost for the company with the long term needs of employees in a competitive pension.”
It is understood that current pensioners and deferred members of the Diageo Pensions Scheme would not be affected by any potential change.