Diageo to cut 900 jobs despite cross-party campaign to save them

Diageo is to continue with plans to cut up to 900 jobs despite a massive community campaign and Scottish government-backed plans outlining alternative action.

The drinks maker said today it will press ahead with closing its Johnnie Walker bottling plant in Kilmarnock and the Port Dundas grain distillery in Glasgow, despite huge public support aimed at keeping them open.

Diageo’s shareholders received more than 450,000 e-mails from workers and members of the community urging them not to close the factories, and 20,000 people marched through Kilmarnock in a protest rally.

Scottish finance secretary John Swinney presented bosses at the firm with details of alternative proposals last week, drawn up by politicians, trade unions, councils and Scottish Enterprise, which would have seen production continue at Port Dundas and the creation of a new plant in Kilmarnock. But David Gosnell, managing director of Diageo Global Supply, said the proposals were unworkable.

He said: “We examined the alternative proposals thoroughly. They don’t deliver a business model that would be good for either Diageo or Scotland.

“We need a sustainable Scottish operation that supports our international spirits business and provides a future for the 4,000 people we would employ in Scotland after this restructuring is completed. I appreciate their efforts but the taskforce has no workable alternative to deliver what Diageo needs.”

The company will now continue the formal consultation process with the unions representing its employees, according to local paper the Herald.

Last week, TUC national organiser Paul Nowak told Personnel Today that unions would increasingly look to the public to help rally support for campaigns, as those representing Diageo workers did, by generating awareness on social networking sites such as Facebook.

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