UK employees of Honeywell are being balloted for industrial action over the closure of their final salary pension scheme and the ‘woefully inadequate’ alternative pension arrangements offered by the US-owned company.
Unite, the country’s largest union, started balloting its 1,100 members across the UK today (Tuesday 18 October) in a consultative ballot for industrial action. The ballot closes on Monday 31 October.
Not only is Unite concerned about the closure of the final salary scheme, but also the ‘pathetic’ alternatives on offer – the defined contribution (DC) scheme which relies on the vagaries of the stock market, and ‘automatic enrolment’, set up by the Pensions Act 2008, to ensure that every worker is in a pension scheme.
Honeywell has more than 50 sites across the UK including Basildon; Bournemouth; Leicester; Newhouse, near Motherwell; St Asaph in Wales; Southend; Swansea and Yeovil.
Unite national officer Linda McCulloch said: “The consultative ballot will close on 31 October and that could lead to a full-scale strike ballot protesting at the unnecessary plan to close the final salary scheme and also the woefully inadequate alternative pension provisions.”
Unite said that that the DC scheme Honeywell proposed to offer to current final salary members had a contribution rate of four per cent for employees to get a maximum six per cent from the company.
Prior to 2013, this was the DC offer to new employees, but it was closed off then to coincide with auto-enrolment and new Honeywell employees are only now offered the legal minimum employer contribution of one per cent.
Linda McCulloch added: “Honeywell likes to pride itself as a corporate global leader of excellence, but its DC and ‘automatic enrolment’ schemes are way below the industry average in terms of company contributions – it is pathetic for such a profitable multinational.
“Unite is not going to stand by and see the retirement incomes of our members, built up over many years, eroded to the tune of thousands of pounds a year.
“The final salary proposals affect 1,300 employees. Unfortunately, the management has, so far, firmly resisted national consultation on the pensions’ issue.
“Unite members are very disappointed that Honeywell has seen fit to propose closure of its defined benefit (DB) scheme and to offer its employees, who are members of it, a poor quality defined contribution (DC) scheme, given that such plans rely on the rollercoaster nature of the stock market.
“The management is not offering any compensation for this proposed change.
“Unite recognises that current market conditions are creating big problems for defined benefit pension schemes, but our members do not accept that closure of these schemes is inevitable.
“Unite is also strongly committed to improving the benefits offered by the existing DC scheme as well as for those on ‘automatic enrolment’.
“To save the final salary scheme and to send a strong message about the significant improvements required to the two other schemes, it is vital that all members take part in the consultative ballot.”
Unite has highlighted the acceleration of the closure of final pension salary schemes by organisations, many of which are household names.
In recent weeks, AWE Plc (the Atomic Weapons Establishment), carmaker BMW, Gatwick Airport Ltd and the Post Office have all announced that they planning to close their defined benefit pensions – and Unite has pledged to fight the move to the defined contribution option by all these organisations.
Notes to editors:
According to its website, Honeywell is headquartered in New Jersey with operations at about 1,250 sites in 70 countries; with more than 129,000 employees worldwide, including more than 23,000 engineers and scientists.
The website added: “With over 7,000 employees in the UK, all three businesses are represented: aerospace, automation and control solutions and performance materials and technologies.”
- For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org