Thousands of people have taken to the streets of Kilmarnock in Scotland to protest against plans to close the factory which bottles the iconic whisky Johnnie Walker.
The town has been linked with the brand since 1820 but now owners Diageo want to move bottling out of the town, with the loss of 700 jobs. “Scottish whisky depends on integrity for its success, on provenance and reputation. And I think it is right to say to Diageo ‘you are going to damage that reputation and damage the future success if you turn your back on communities like Kilmarnock,’” said Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond. Some are claiming there is no economic justification for the company’s decision to close the plant: “2.2 billion pounds profit last year; they have no reason whatsoever to inflict the damage on families and communities that their proposals have suggested and we are not having it,” said union representative Len McCluskey. Diageo claims the closure plans would save 20 million euros a year. The company also wants to shut two sites in Glasgow and says the redundancies will be offset by the creation of 400 new jobs at a packaging plant in Fife. The government is drawing up alternative plans which Diageo has promised to consider.