A friendly football match between Kilmarnock and Partick Thistle tomorrow will become the focus for support for whisky workers threatened with job losses by Diageo as two SNP MSPs prepare to campaign on behalf of the workers.
The two teams are the local teams for the two plants where workers jobs are threatened – Johnnie Walker in Kilmarnock and the Port Dundas Distillery in Glasgow. SNP MSPs, Willie Coffey for Kilmarnock and Loudoun and Glasgow’s Bob Doris, will both be helping raise awareness of the campaign for jobs at both plants.
Commenting before the match at Rugby Park in Kilmarnock local MSP Willie Coffey, who will be collecting names for a petition he initiated and which has already broken 11,000 online, said:
"The response to Sunday’s march was already a reflection of the response to the petition I initiated. It showed the level of concern about Diageo's plans.
"Equally I am sure this football match will become a focus of protest against Diageo’s decision. It will give local people in Kilmarnock and Glasgow the chance to show Diageo what they think of their decision to close down nearly two centuries of tradition.
"The message that Diageo seems to have forgotten is that customers across the world DO value Johnnie Walker's close connection with Kilmarnock.
“They may have lost sight of the value of this but an increasing number of customers across the world are giving Diageo the message - keep Johnnie Walker in Kilmarnock and keep Port Dundas distillery open in Glasgow.
“I would urge fans old and new to come along and support both clubs tomorrow night and to also show their support for Kilmarnock and Glasgow’s whisky workers.”
Mr Bob Doris, who suggested that the football match would be an excellent focus in the campaign and will be helping trade unions leaflet the fans, said:
"Both Partick Thistle and Kilmarnock football clubs have shown a great commitment and determination to help their communities retain the jobs threatened by Diageo at Johnnie Walkers in Kilmarnock and the Port Dundas distillery in Glasgow.
“This pre-season friendly between both clubs is an ideal opportunity for fans to turn out in significant numbers for the match and take a united stand against Diageo's plans.
"It would be good to see people that have not been to a game for a while, or even first timers, make the effort to attend. Having spoken to both GMB and UNITE unions I know that the workers and the Unions would very much appreciate this.
“I hope others from Glasgow will make the trip through in a show of solidarity. Having spoken to the Jags Trust (Partick Thistle's supporters trust) they are certainly keen for as many from Glasgow to make the trip through to Kilmarnock.
"I know the Unions will be out in force at the game and fans will be given the opportunity to demonstrate their support."
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