Workers at Crown Royal's 'whisky of the year' distillery go on strike

Canadians hoping to get their hands on the whisky of the year may soon have an even tougher time finding a bottle, now that workers at the Manitoba distillery in charge of its production have gone on strike.

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About 50 workers at the Diageo plant in Gimli, Man., roughly an hour north of Winnipeg, picketed on Saturday.

Diageo owns Crown Royal, which is known for its blended Canadian whisky, including its Northern Harvest Rye that garnered the top spot in Jim Murray's 2016 Whisky Bible. The whisky has been flying off the shelves across the country ever since.

On Friday, 98 per cent of the United Food and Commercial Workers Canada Local 832 voted to reject the company's final collective bargaining offer, and went on strike.

"Our members go to work every day with the mindset that they are making the world's greatest whisky. The membership believes that if the company put the same effort into this round of bargaining we wouldn't be on strike," said UFCW Local 832 president Jeff Traeger in a statement.

The union cited wage increases, vacation time, and health and welfare benefits as "sticking points" that are preventing a deal.

A spokesperson for Diageo told CTV News that it offered the union a wage increase of 4.5 per cent over three years.

"We are disappointed with the result of the vote and the decision by the union to proceed with a strike as we believe that the offer made by Diageo was a fair one," said the spokesperson in an emailed statement.

Diageo says it has "robust business-continuity plans in place" to ensure the strike doesn't affect the delivery of Crown Royal products.


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