Jackie Baillie MSP has been in discussion with Chivas bosses about their decision to continue to operate the bottling plant at Kilmalid during the covid-19 pandemic.
Earlier this week, after being contacted by several Chivas bottling plant workers who were worried for their health, Jackie Baillie wrote to Chivas Regal CEO Jean-Christophe Coutoures. In her letter, Jackie called on Chivas to protect the health and wellbeing of the workers, their family members and the wider community. Whilst food and drink manufacturers have been classed as essential businesses, it is questionable whether bottling plants should remain functioning given that they are not making a contribution to tackling the pandemic.
Mr Coutoures responded to the letter, stating that: “Our number one priority is the wellbeing of our employees, now and for the future. As a business we need to remain operational to protect jobs in the long term and maintain our ability to respond to the expected improvement in market conditions around the globe.”
It was also confirmed that social distancing measures have been put in place within the bottling plant and only workers who are able to get to work by foot or alone in a car have been asked to come in.
However, the GMB, who have active shop stewards within the Chivas bottling plant, informed Jackie Baillie that not all measures of social distancing were in place by the time Kilmalid re-opened yesterday and there is still a lack of alcohol wipes to clean machinery touched by numerous staff members. The GMB believe that even with a skeleton staff social distancing is extremely difficult and cannot be enforced at all times. The GMB have therefore called for Chivas to close its Kilmalid bottling plant in line with government advice to protect the safety of its workers.
Jackie Baillie MSP said:
“I understand the concerns of the employees and their union, the GMB. They want the bottling plant at Kilmalid to close temporarily. Senior managers believe they are taking appropriate precautions and are doing the right thing but reports coming from the shop floor are worrying.
“If the health and wellbeing of Chivas staff is the company’s priorty, they must practice what they preach and consider halting production as a precautionary measure. It is unacceptable to place these workers and their health at risk.
“I have written to the Scottish Government asking them to intervene in this case and I urge Chivas to rethink its plans and mothball the plant.”