Page last updated at 14:23 GMT, Thursday, 2 July 2009 15:23 UK

Salmond slams Diageo management

Diageo's Kilmarnock plant
About 700 jobs will be lost when the Kilmarnock plant closes

First Minister Alex Salmond has condemned management at Diageo the day after the company said it planned to cut up to 900 Scottish jobs.

The posts will go with the closure of its Port Dundas distillery in Glasgow and a packaging plant in Kilmarnock.

Diageo aims to offset the job losses by creating up to 400 new posts at its packaging plant at Leven in Fife.

Meanwhile, East Ayrshire Council said Diageo's plan to close its Kilmarnock packaging plant was "shameful".

Mr Salmond, who met with Diageo representatives on Thursday morning, said the company had agreed to consider alternative proposals during a consultation process, which will begin on Friday.

He was also given a guarantee that there would be no compulsory job losses in the next 12 months.

Mr Salmond told BBC Scotland Diageo had made "billions" out of Scotland from the sales of Scotch whisky.

They have been left under no illusions over how we regard the nature of their conduct
Alex Salmond
First Minister

He added: "I think when a company has made billions of pounds out of Scotland with the sales of Scotch whisky, at the very least when they are planning a decision of such enormity - particularly in the economy of Kilmarnock and Ayrshire - then they have an obligation to let the representatives know what is happening."

He also said Diageo had an obligation to "engage" with the government about what alternatives might be possible, and how to mitigate the impact of the "economic bombshell".

"Today at the meeting with [Diageo's] senior representatives in Scotland, they have been left under no illusions over how we regard the nature of their conduct," Mr Salmond added.

East Ayrshire Council's deputy leader, Councillor Iain Linton, said: "The first time we heard about this was when we received a copy of the company's press release.

"Senior members and officers quizzed the company as to the reasons for their decisions but we were given no new information.

"When it was pointed out to them the devastation this would cause in Kilmarnock, the company said that they took this into consideration but were happy that they had reached the correct decision.

"If we had had the opportunity to discuss their proposals before the announcement was made, we would have worked with them to save this plant and offer alternatives."

The closure-threatened packaging plant in Ayrshire is also at the centre of bitter political exchanges between the local Labour MP and the Scottish Government.

'Cheap shot'

Kilmarnock and Loudoun MP Des Browne said: "Ten years ago, working with Brian Wilson in the Scottish Office, the then leader of the Labour council and the local workforce and Scottish Enterprise Ayrshire, we fought a similar proposal and we won.

"Then, the relationship between the political leadership of Scotland and one of its most important industries was one of trust and partnership.

"But now the first minister has been caught snoozing on his watch.

"The first minister only found out about this hours before it happened - even though Diageo had been talking to Scottish Enterprise for some time, I understand.

"Do Scottish Enterprise not talk to the first minister? If he has no relationship of trust with the Scotch whisky industry, where does he stand with the rest?"

But a spokesman for the first minister described Mr Browne's comments as a "cheap political shot".

"Frankly at a time when the people of Scotland want to see the governments working together, it beggars belief that Des Browne would launch such an unwarranted attack as this," he said.

"It is the UK Government that controls the economic levers and responsibilities that are essential to ensuring that Scotland moves out of the economic recession as quickly as possible."

Print Sponsor

Diageo to cut 900 Scottish jobs
01 Jul 09 |  Glasgow, Lanarkshire and West
Sales drop for drinks firm Diageo
07 May 09 |  Scotland
Guinness firm cuts profit target
12 Feb 09 |  Business
Diageo expects 'challenges' ahead
28 Aug 08 |  Business

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific