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From The Socialist newspaper, 29 July 2009

Kilmarnock: Anger over Diageo's jobs massacre

ON 26 JULY, 20,000 people took to the streets of Kilmarnock, west Scotland, to defend the 900 whisky jobs due to be cut by multinational drinks company Diageo.

Leah Ganley, Youth Fight for Jobs, Scotland

This colossal turn out, almost half of the town's 44,000 population, showed the huge support for the campaign, with thousands on the streets marching and even more signatures on petitions, calling on Diageo to keep the jobs. The anger has been fuelled by the greed of Diageo whose profits were up 17% in the last six months of 2008.

The whole community was involved with the march, including the entire Kilmarnock FC team, as well as politicians from a wide political spectrum. All the politicians are united around the cause and around one solution, appealing to the better nature of Diageo's management. Alex Salmond, first minister of Scotland spoke, saying he would be willing to offer some public money to Diageo.

If a deal is made, how long will the jobs last? How many of the 900 jobs will be saved? Public money should not be used to bail out profitable companies, instead the jobs at Johnnie Walker should be safeguarded by bringing it into public ownership and run under democratic control of the workforce.

Youth Fight for Jobs (YFJ) were in Kilmarnock to support the Johnnie Walker workers. The new youth campaign set up to fight for decent jobs for all, a minimum wage of 8 an hour and for free education, was well received. Many people were attracted to our banner and many signed our petition. Several young people also expressed an interest in getting active in future YFFJ activities. We will soon be launching our North Ayrshire branch of YFFJ as we already have a group of members in Irvine.

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