WORKERS at the Diageo plant in Shieldhall have spent shifts just "hanging about" despite their jobs being classed as part of an essential service.

Unite the union has asked company bosses to consider operating with fewer staff during the coronavirus pandemic to ease safety fears.

One member of staff, working eight-hour shifts, said the plant would be more useful if workers could bottle hand sanitiser instead of whisky.

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They told the Glasgow Times: "They had us in, we did over two hours work and then we were basically all just hanging about.

"I don't think they're playing their part as much as people think."

Diageo, which owns brands including Guinness, Smirnoff, Johnnie Walker and Gordon’s gin, says it is "working hard to ensure the essential services we provide are maintained".

These services include providing animal feed to livestock farmers, wheat and barley to distilleries and alcohol to customers in the UK and around the world, the company says.

The worker at the Shieldhall plant said people are "under the impression we are doing our bit" but bottles are being stockpiled and "going nowhere".

They claimed staff had been told they had to stay for their whole shift or they wouldn't get paid and said: "Why be in there for five or six hours when there's no work?"

"There's a lot of ill feeling," they added and questioned why staff levels couldn't be reduced.

Elaine Dougall, from Unite, has raised concerns with the company on behalf of the workers. She said staffing levels need to be reassessed during the pandemic.

Other bottling plants have reduced their operations, she added, and said staff shouldn't be travelling to the plant to carry out "menial tasks".

Ms Dougall said if staff do stay at home to stay safe then they should be on full pay.

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A Diageo spokesman said the safety of staff, their families and communities was the "number one priority".

"We would never ask any employee to be in an environment that we believe is not safe for them to do so, nor would we operate any site unless it is responsible and appropriate to do so," he said.

"We have comprehensive safety protocols in place across all of our sites in Scotland, including strict social distancing, heightened sanitation measures, restriction of movement to and from our sites, and we have worked constructively with our trade unions at site level to fundamentally change the way we work to ensure these protocols are effective."

The worker confirmed social distancing guidelines are being followed and said the company was taking temperatures and ensuring shifts didn't overlap.