Diageo workers call for shutdown amid covid-19 safety fears

Unite the union has today (27 March) taken the step to write to Diageo’s senior management requesting a halt in production at its bottling and distilling operations in Scotland in light of workplace safety concerns and rising levels of stress.

Diageo has a number of distilleries and bottling operations across the country including its Leven, Cameron Bridge and Shieldhall plants, which have remained open on the basis of providing goods and essential services. The company’s brands include Smirnoff, Bailey’s, Johnnie Walker, Guinness, Tanqueray and Gordon’s gin.

Unite workplace representatives have been reporting that despite the company adhering to government social distancing measures there remain ongoing safety concerns including the communal use of workplace canteens and toilets with up to 200 workers based at some plants. Unite representatives are also reporting rising levels of stress and anxiety with hundreds of workers being in close proximity to each other for up to eight hours a day.

Bob MacGregor, Unite regional industrial officer, said: “Diageo workers are demanding that the company halts production at its plants across Scotland due to the mountain of safety concerns being raised by the workforce. Unite fully understands that the food and drink sectors are essential services but if the safety concerns can’t be addressed then production must stop. Safety must come first. The reality is that hundreds of people are working beside each other for hours a day, and then travelling home often on public transport to their families. The workforce are asking Diageo to do the right thing and halt production.”

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