STRIKE action by a global drinks giant's North Ayrshire workers has moved a step closer after members of two trade unions voted in favour of a walkout.

The Unite Scotland and GMB unions have announced that its members who work for Chivas Brothers have "emphatically" backed strike action.

The company employs 22 people at its warehouses in Beith - known as the 'Beith bonds' - and others in Dumbarton, Clydebank, Glasgow and Moray.

Unite says its members working for Chivas Brothers - part of the Pernod Ricard drinks giant - supported taking strike action by an overwhelming 91.2 per cent.

GMB members at the firm backed strike action by 89 per cent in a ballot.

The unions say any forthcoming industrial action will ‘hit hard’ festive season supplies of the company’s premier brands.

Chivas employs around 1,500 workers in Scotland. 

The company produces Scotch whisky premier brands including Chivas Regal, Aberlour, Ballantine's, Royal Salute and The Glenlivet.

The union had previously warned of industrial action back in October after its members rejected a 6.4 per cent pay offer by 97 per cent.

They said they would have "no option" but to ballot members on strike action unless progress was made in pay negotiations.

Inflation stood at 11.3 per cent when the workers’ pay increase should have been implemented. 

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Strike action at Chivas Brothers is inevitable unless the current pay offer is improved. Chivas made an eye-watering profit last year, and it can easily afford to offer our members a significantly better offer.

“Unite will back our Chivas Brothers members all the way in the fight for better jobs, pay and conditions.”

Chivas Brothers Ltd made a profit after tax of £168.5 million in 2022. In August, the company further announced that its July 2022 – June 2023 full-year net sales were up 17 per cent taking total sales to a 10-year high. 

David Hume, GMB Scotland's organiser, added: “After a year when household bills rose again and again our members have made clear they will not accept a pay rise that is, in reality, a pay cut.

“It would be unacceptable at any time but the company’s owners celebrating some of the highest ever sales only add insult to injury.

“Huge profits are built on the shoulders of our members and they deserve to be paid fairly and receive an offer that recognises the value of their work.”

The company will now be given two weeks' notice of strike dates.

A Chivas Brothers spokesperson said: “We’re disappointed that a small majority (61%) of our employees covered by a bargaining agreement have voted for strike action.

“As a business, we firmly believe that our pay proposal strikes the right balance in ensuring salaries remain highly competitive in the context of a normalising business and economic environment, as further indicated by this month’s drop in inflation.

"Our current offer, combined with last year's increase would see salaries increase above the CPI and CPIH inflation averages seen over our last two financial years.

“We remain committed to our proposal and open to continued dialogue to see this matter reach a resolution.

“Should industrial action go ahead, we are prepared to put in place the necessary measures to ensure our continued business operations, minimising any impact to our customers around the world. As our end-of-year orders have already shipped, we are confident this ballot result will have no impact on the festive season.”