GMB, the union for whisky and spirits workers, has written to the UK Government Scottish Secretary David Mundell , calling for measures to protect the £5billion Scotch industry amid Brexit uncertainty.
More than 40,000 UK jobs are directly supported by the industry, with a further estimated 120,000 jobs connected with whisky production and export.
At least 7,000 of these are in rural areas where other work is hard to find.
The industry is worth a massive £5 billion to the UK economy – £4 billion of which comes from exports.
Whisky is covered by World Trade Organisation agreements – meaning exports won’t be subject to tariffs inside the EU.
But 10% of exports – amounting to £400million – go to markets like Columbia, Mexico and South Korea where trade agreements were brokered through the EU.
Following Brexit these lucrative exports could become subject to punishing tariffs.
GMB is called on Mr Mundell to give reassurances for the whisky industry similar mirroring those given to Nissan, an industry worth around £2.9billion supporting 28,000 jobs overall.
Louise Gilmour, GMB Scotland Organiser, said:
“Whisky is a massive success story for Scotland – and the UK – but we need the government to back us up in the months and years ahead.
“Westminster was quick to pledge support for Nissan – which is also vital for the economy – but is frankly dwarfed by the size of the whisky industry.
“We need parity for workers in our whisky industry and the same guarantees that were given to Nissan.
“Tens of thousands of jobs depend on whisky and the government needs to take action to protect our members livelihoods post- Brexit.
“Our members want assurances that the government will be doing all it can to ensure whisky sector can thrive, creating much needed new jobs by securing good deals with new markets.
“Quite simply, we cannot do without this industry. “