Diageo employees vote 84.1% in favour of new three-year contract


Diageo signBy Ron Giofu


Diageo employees have ratified a new three-year contract with the company.

The workers, represented by Unifor Local 2098, voted in favour of the new collective agreement with the company with the vote being held Sunday morning at the Macedonian Centre in LaSalle. The bargaining unit and the union had reached a tentative agreement last Wednesday night after a marathon bargaining session.

Unifor Local 2098 president D.J. Lacey said after Sunday’s vote that it was nice to get the process over with since negotiations began last November. He said 84.1 per cent of the general membership voted in favour and 100 per cent of skilled trades workers supported the new deal.

“We ended up getting commitments for $10 million for investments in the Amherstburg facility,” said Lacey. “The $10 million is going to bring in a lot of automation and technology to the Amherstburg facility.”

A downside to the automation will be a reduction in employees as Lacey said there will be 110 buyouts available once the investments start being made. There are approximately 260 employees at the plant with 92 currently active. The 260 total includes the 103 workers that were laid off a few weeks ago.

The company is committing $8 million to cover the buyouts, said Lacey.

“It’s probably going to be about a year or so when the investments start to roll in,” said Lacey.

The $10 million in investments in the Amherstburg bottling plant shows the company is willing to make a commitment and help maximize efficiencies there, Lacey stated.

“I think it’s a win for everyone,” he said.

Many of whom who were laid off a few weeks ago will slowly be called back though Lacey said he couldn’t confirm how many would be called back.

Other aspects of the deal include a $500 incentive for retirees, a $1,000 efficiency bonus to be paid in November, employees maintaining their current level of benefits and pensions, no work being outsourced and an increase in wages to offset extra duties. Lacey emphasized this contract was not about wages or benefits but rather to secure investments in the Amherstburg plant.

Bob Paling, vice president of corporate relations with Diageo, said last Friday the company was pleased to have reached a new deal with its unionized workforce.

“We look forward to a long relationship in the Amherstburg area with this plant,” said Paling.

Paling noted the strike deadline had been extended to Feb. 12 and that work continued until the tentative deal was reached Wednesday night.

“It was a long process.”

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