Scotland: 20,000 people march in Kilmarnock to defend ‘Johnnie Walker’ 900 jobs

Huge anger over multinational drinks company Diageo jobs massacre

Youth Fight for Jobs on the march

On 26 July, 20,000 people took to the streets of Kilmarnock, west Scotland, to defend 900 whisky industry jobs due to be cut by the multinational drinks company Diageo.

This colossal turn out, almost half of the town’s 44,000 population, showed the huge support for the campaign, with thousands on the streets marching and even more signatures on petitions, calling on Diageo to keep the jobs. The anger has been fuelled by the greed of Diageo whose profits were up 17% in the last six months of 2008.

The whole community was involved with the march, including the entire Kilmarnock FC football team, as well as politicians from a wide political spectrum. All the politicians are united around the cause and around one solution, appealing to the better nature of Diageo’s management. Alex Salmond, First Minister of Scotland’s local parliament, said he would be willing to offer some public money to Diageo.

If a deal is made, how long will the jobs last? How many of the 900 jobs will be saved? Public money should not be used to bail out profitable companies. Instead the jobs at Johnnie Walker should be safeguarded by bringing it into public ownership and run under democratic control of the workforce.

Youth Fight For Jobs (YFFJ) were in Kilmarnock to support the Johnnie Walker workers. The new youth campaign, set up to fight for decent jobs for all, a minimum wage of £8 an hour and for free education, was well received. Many people were attracted to our banner and many signed our petition. Several young people also expressed an interest in getting active in future YFFJ activities. We will soon be launching our North Ayrshire branch of YFFJ, as we already have a group of members in Irvine.

For more information about the fight to save jobs at Jonnie Walker, see this article on website of the International Socialists (CWI in Scotland)

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July 2009