70 Fife jobs under threat at Diageo’s bottling plant

© DC Thomson
The Diageo bottling plant in Leven.

Seventy jobs are under threat at Diageo’s bottling plant in Leven as the drinks company compensates for a slowdown in European orders.

A further 30 roles could go in Glasgow as a result of the restructuring, which comes amid attempts to offset orders being lost at the Santa Vittoria plant in Italy.

Trade unions accused both the alcohol giants and the UK Government of a “betrayal” of workers.

Alex Rowley, Labour’s Mid Scotland and Fife MSP, said: “There needs to be a commitment from the Scottish Government and the UK Government to fight for every job.

“A situation where contracts lost in Italy results in jobs lost in Fife does not bode well for the future. We need to look at what the options are for the (drinks) industry in Scotland.

“This is a devastating blow for Fife, for the Levenmouth area, and we need to fight to secure every job we possibly can.”

Stephen Gethins, the SNP’s North East Fife MP, said: “This will be a real blow to the employees affected, their families and the wider community. I have written to Diageo asking for more information on their plans and an explanation of why they have taken this decision.

“I have also written to the Cabinet Secretary for the economy, Keith Brown, asking for the Scottish Government to provide assistance.

“I will also raise this in Parliament and, given the GMB’s remarks about Europe, will ask the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, David Davis, what assessment he has made of the impact of leaving the European Union on this hugely important industry and one of the biggest employers in Fife.”

GMB Scotland said that staff and trade unions were informed on Thursday afternoon that seventy redundancies will be made at the plant in Fife, with a further thirty-five expected at its Shieldhall site near Glasgow.

It is understood that vodka and rum production will be moved to the former Cinzano factory of Santa Vittoria in Italy, with work with Smirnoff vodka also being trialled in the United States.

Louise Gilmour, GMB Scotland organiser, said: “We warned David Mundell (the Scottish Secretary) and the UK government about the possible impact of Brexit on the future of jobs across our drinks manufacturing sector and about the need for protective measures to safeguard an industry worth billions to the Scottish and UK economies.

“Instead of listening to the real concerns of working people and acting on them, the Tories are off on the election trail asking voters to back them over Brexit but the harsh realities of the decision to withdraw from the EU are already taking hold.”

Pat McIlvogue, regional officer for Unite the Union, said: “This is a shocking betrayal of Scottish workers. Diageo isn’t proposing cutting the volume of what it produces – the work will still have be done somewhere. But it’s telling Scottish workers that they’re not the ones that are going to be doing it.”

Diageo made a £2.1 billion profit for the six months to 31 December last year, up 16% on the previous year.

A spokesman for Diageo said: “Following the disposal of our wine business and the subsequent end of the wine bottling contracts, we have reviewed our spirits bottling footprint to ensure we not only deliver leading performance for both our domestic and export supply chains around the world, but also to strengthen our business for the future.

“Regrettably, these changes may impact some roles in our European bottling plants towards the end of the year and we will now enter a period of consultation with our employees and their representatives to discuss the proposals in more detail. We are committed to our three spirits bottling sites in Europe – two in Scotland and one in Italy.

“The outcomes of this review will ensure we have the flexibility to respond to increased competition and external volatility, alongside testing and building the capability we need across our global supply chain to grow our brands.”

The UK Government and the Scottish Government have been contacted for comment.