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Whisky Workers Seek Honest Answers

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Whisky Workers To Seek ‘Honest Answers’ From EU Representatives Over Brexit

Workers from the whisky industry will take their concerns about the impact of Brexit on their jobs to Brussels tomorrow (Wednesday 22 March) against a backdrop of silence from the UK government. 

Members of GMB Scotland, the union for whisky and spirits workers, will seek views from MEPs, EU commission representatives and trade experts over the future of the industry’s trading arrangements with the EU.

GMB has previously written to the Secretary of State for Scotland, David Mundell MP, calling for measures to protect the £5 billion whisky industry and the 40,000 jobs it directly supports, mirroring the deal handed to the Sunderland car-manufacturing giant Nissan.

The EU is seen as a single market in terms of World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules and the inter-EU trade of whisky and other products is tariff free, but with 10 per cent of whisky exports going to markets like Central and South America and South Korea, where trade agreements were brokered through the EU, tariffs could be subject to change in future.

GMB Scotland Organiser Louise Gilmour said: “Whisky is a massive success story for Scotland but our efforts to get protective measures from the UK government amid Brexit uncertainty have so far been met with silence. We need some honest answers.

If the UK government cannot provide our members with the reassurances they need for the future defence of their livelihoods then we need to gauge how others see us, which may mean some hard truths from Europe on future trading arrangements.

As a trade union focused on the creation and defence of decent jobs, what we are not prepared to entertain is the prospect of change being imposed on our whisky industry post-Brexit and to the detriment of employment conditions and investment.

If the Scottish Secretary and the UK government are asleep on the job then GMB will ask the tough questions for them because the Scottish economy simply cannot do without a thriving whisky industry and we cannot afford to wait on change to find us.”


Contact: GMB Scotland Organiser Louise Gilmour on +44 7921 289739 and GMB Scotland Policy & Political Officer Drew Smith on +44 7921 885787 (in Brussels Wed 22 March) or Peter Welsh, GMB Scotland Communications, on 07976 447077.

Notes to Editors: The GMB Scotland delegation to Brussels is due to discuss the future of Scotch whisky with representatives in the European Parliament, the EU Commission as well as with EU trade bodies, European trade union colleagues and the UK Permanent Representation in Brussels on Wednesday 22 March. 

For full itinerary confirmation, please contact GMB European Officer Kathleen Walker Shaw on +44 7841 181549.