Socialist Worker

Fight is on to stop Diaego Johnnie Walker closures

by Danny McGregor and Graeme Cumming
Issue No. 2161

“If you shut Johnnie Walker’s you might as well close the shutters in every shop in Kilmarnock.”

So says one worker at the whiskey bottling plant in Kilmarnock, which the multinational drinks company Diaego plans to close.

The move would throw 700 workers on the dole. Another 200 face the axe in Glasgow as Diaego plans to close its Johnnie Walker distillery, cooperate and distribution centre.

But there is strong feelings against the cuts and a protest march has been called for this Sunday.

“This closure isn’t about the recession,” said a second worker. “It’s about greed, just like the banks.”

Activists from the Fight for the Right to Work campaign report deep anger in Kilmarnock after petitioning in the town centre against the closure. Almost everyone who walked past their stall stopped to sign and show their opposition to the job cuts.

Support for the campaign from the local football team Kilmarnock FC, who are hosting a petition on their website, indicates the potential for building mass resistance among working class people.

Scotland’s first minister Alex Salmond will be joining Sunday’s protest. The SNP-led Scottish government and the Scottish Labour Party are both urging Diageo to reconsider. But neither the Westminster nor the Edinburgh government is promising action to save jobs.

If the campaign focuses solely on local jobs it will allow the company to pit workers in different locations against each other.

Johnnie Walker is an internationally known product. Diaego announced a 17 percent rise in profits in February over the previous six months.

A jobs fight would attract worldwide publicity and support. Sunday’s march can be the launchpad for a fight to save every job.

March and rally in Kilmarnock, assemble 1pm, Sunday 26 July, Howard Park

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