Members of GMB Scotland, the union for whisky and spirits workers, will seek views from MEPs, EU commission representatives and trade experts over the future of the industry’s trading arrangements with the EU.
GMB has previously written to the Secretary of State for Scotland, David Mundell MP, calling for measures to protect the £5 billion whisky industry and the 40,000 jobs it directly supports, mirroring the deal handed to the Sunderland car-manufacturing giant Nissan.
The EU is seen as a single market in terms of World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules and the inter-EU trade of whisky and other products is tariff free, but with 10 per cent of whisky exports going to markets like Central and South America and South Korea, where trade agreements were brokered through the EU, tariffs could be subject to change in future.
GMB Scotland Organiser Louise Gilmour said: “Whisky is a massive success story for Scotland but our efforts to get protective measures from the UK government amid Brexit uncertainty have so far been met with silence. We need some honest answers.
If the UK government cannot provide our members with the reassurances they need for the future defence of their livelihoods then we need to gauge how others see us, which may mean some hard truths from Europe on future trading arrangements.
As a trade union focused on the creation and defence of decent jobs, what we are not prepared to entertain is the prospect of change being imposed on our whisky industry post-Brexit and to the detriment of employment conditions and investment.
If the Scottish Secretary and the UK government are asleep on the job then GMB will ask the tough questions for them because the Scottish economy simply cannot do without a thriving whisky industry and we cannot afford to wait on change to find us.”