Irn-Bru supplies under threat as workers resume strike action

Unite has claimed that AG Barr potentially engaged in illegal activity during industrial action.

Workers at a plant manufacturing Scotland’s other national drink are set to resume strike action, with their union accusing the company of “potentially illegal” strike action.

Unite has claimed that AG Barr potentially engaged in illegal activity during industrial action at the company’s production and distribution centre in Cumbernauld.

The trade union said that it has reported AG Barr and contractors Stobbart and Streamline to the Department for Business and Trade, demanding a probe into the firm for potential use of agency labour through contractors during previous rounds of strikes.

AG Barr has “strongly denied” the allegations, and added that the firm had done “nothing to deter or intimidate” the striking workers.

Unite represents trucker and shunter drivers it says are “essential” to the supply of the company’s world-renowned products, which include Irn-Bru – one of Scotland’s most popular soft drinks.

The workers are scheduled to resume 24-hour strike action from midnight on August 25.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham, said: “AG Barr’s behaviour during this pay dispute has been disgraceful. The company is on the brink of forever tarnishing its reputation with not only the workers but the Scottish public.”

“AG Barr is displaying nasty anti-union tactics in an attempt to bully and intimidate our members back to work. Unite will not tolerate this behaviour and we will challenge it head-on in the defence of our members’ jobs, pay and conditions.”

The dispute comes at a juncture when the current AG Barr chief executive, Roger White, recently announced his retirement from the position within the next 12 months.

Unite claimed that the pay dispute could be settled at “a fraction” of Mr White’s last bonus of £462,000, received in conjunction with a salary of £503,000 for the year ending January 2023.

Andy Brown, Unite industrial officer said: “AG Barr’s conduct during Unite’s pay dispute has left a very sour taste in the mouths of our members.

“How the CEO, Mr White, can even begin to say with a straight face that our members don’t deserve more than five per cent when he has a remuneration package totalling nearly £1.8m is ludicrous.”

“Our members will continue to fight for fair pay at AG Barr, and they deserve the Scottish public’s support in fighting back against corporate greed.”

The popular multi-beverage business increased its revenue by 18.2% to £317.6m for the year ended on January 29, 2023.

A spokesperson for AG Barr said: “We strongly refute the provocative accusations by Unite the union that we have potentially engaged in illegal activity during industrial action. This is untrue and strongly denied. We respect our drivers’ decision to take industrial action, which is their personal choice. We have done nothing to deter or intimidate them.

We note that Unite has apparently made a report to the Department of Business and Trade. We will of course co-operate in any investigation to provide the necessary evidence.”

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