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450,000 in digital campaign to force Diageo u-turn

Published:  26 August, 2009

Drinks giant Diageo has been swamped by 450,000 emails urging it to scrap plans for a company restructuring that will see the loss of 900 jobs in Scotland.

The email campaign stepped up a gear ahead of tomorrow's announcement of Diageo's profits for the year at a company press conference in London.

The campaign, organised by the union Unite, which is spearheading opposition to Diageo's plans, is expected to have half-a-million respondents by tomorrow.

Diageo's leading shareholders have been bombarded by emails urging it to abandon plans would see the loss of 700 jobs alone at its Johnnie Walker packaging plant in Kilmarnock.

Unite claims that Diageo is expected to announce an increase in its year-on-year profits tomorrow.

Some 204 of Diageo's main shareholders have been targeted in the digital campaign.

Len McCluskey, Unite assistant general secretary, said that the public response had been "tremendous".

"Support for these workers across the UK and internationally is magnificent and continues to grow. This response demonstrates the strength of feeling about these plans. People in their droves are telling Diageo that what it is doing, in seeking to throw loyal workers onto the scrapheap to turn yet even more eye-watering profits, is simply unacceptable."

McCluskey said that there was still time for the drinks giant to change its mind.

"It is not too late for Diageo to change its mind. It produces much-loved products and its association with Scotland has done it proud, so we urge the Diageo board and its shareholders to think again and reward the loyalty of your Scottish workforce by abandoning its plans to betray them.

"This campaign shows that the public is on the side of these workers and Diageo must make no mistake, Unite will continue to use every weapon at our disposal- in the virtual world and on the shop floor - to keep these men and women in work."

Later this week Unite will be taking its campaign to halt the restructuring plans to Gleneagles where the Johnnie Walker Classic Golf Tournament gets underway. Next Wednesday (September 2), a specially-convened debate on Diageo's restructuring plans will be held in the Scottish Parliament.