Frustration at Diageo ‘rob Peter, pay Paul’ investment plans

6 Jun

Unite Scotland has reacted with frustration to this morning’s announcement by drinks giant Diageo for a proposed five year £1 billion investment in Scottish-based operations.

Only months after doors closed on the historic Johnnie Walker bottling plant in Kilmarnock, Diageo Chief Executive Paul Walsh revealed Diageo are to build a new malt distillery at an unconfirmed Highland location coupled with an expansion of its warehouse operations.  This follows global sales growth of 6% in the last quarter in addition to net sales of £3billion in the last year from its Scotch brands alone.

Unite continues to represent many of the 900 workers impacted by the closures of the Johnnie Walker plant in Kilmarnock and the Port Dundas distillery site in Glasgow.  The trade union’s campaign to save these jobs was supported by politicians from Holyrood and Westminster, including First Minister Alex Salmond.

Unite Scottish Secretary Pat Rafferty said, “There are two sides to every story and while Diageo’s investment plans are positive, particularly for Scotland’s rural economy,  redundant workers in Ayrshire and Glasgow will rightly be asking questions. 

Diageo is a corporation in the rudest of health with vast reserves of capital to invest.  But how much of today’s announcement is an exercise to offset Diageo’s economic damage done elsewhere in Scotland?

In July 2009 Finance Minister John Swinney said Diageo ‘must listen to the people’ who campaigned in their communities to save jobs in Kilmarnock and beyond, yet today Mr Swinney ‘looks forward to working constructively with Diageo’.  That shows you the power of corporations; their power exceeds that of any politician.

Unfortunately its difficult to see how this amounts to anything more than a ‘rob Peter to pay Paul’ exercise in the Scottish economy and it will be met with frustration and anger among Diageo’s former employees.”

ENDS

For further information please contact Unite Scotland’s Campaigns & Communications Unit on 07810157931.

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