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Strike action hits Diageo Leven plant

13 February 2023

Cragganmore distillery, Speyside, Scotland - one of many owned by Diageo. Photo Workers.

Engineering workers based at whisky giant Diageo’s plant in Leven in Fife took strike action over the first weekend in February in an escalating dispute over pay. The latest round of strike action follows stoppages on 15 and 16 January.

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 general secretary Sharon Graham said, “Unite’s engineering members at Diageo’s Leven plant have had enough of pay cuts especially as the company’s profits are soaring. Diageo recorded £4.4 billion in profits – up nearly 20 per cent – directly on the back of our members’ hard work.”

Graham pointed out that some Unite engineering members face significant pay cuts – around 6 per cent – when moved to the proposed lower pay rates.

With inflation at a 45-year high Graham said, “This is totally unacceptable and we will stand with our members in their fight against corporate greed at Diageo.”


The company has around 28,000 employees, which equates to a profit of around £157,000 being generated by every employee.

Diageo produces a number of high profile drinks brands including Johnnie Walker, Crown Royal, J&B, Buchanan’s and Windsor whiskies, Smirnoff, Cîroc and Ketel One vodkas, Captain Morgan, Baileys, Don Julio, Tanqueray and Guinness.

Protests by the workers in dispute were held on the 11 February outside The Johnnie Walker Experience, Edinburgh and the following day outside the Diageo Leven bottling plant.

‘The issue has been ongoing since 2019.’

Unite has taken the whisky giant to task following the introduction of a lower rate of pay for new starters without consultation with unions. This issue has been ongoing and was first raised through the grievance process in 2019.

Unite industrial officer Bob Macgregor added: “The weekend strike action is the latest round in our members’ fight for decent and fair pay. Diageo are one of the most profitable companies in the UK yet they are treating their engineering workers with complete disrespect.”