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Pension fears for nearly 20,000 DHL workers

Pension fears for nearly 20,000 DHL workers

30 July 2013

Nearly 20,000 DHL employees could see their retirement incomes slashed, if copper-bottomed pension guarantees are not in place, Unite, the country’s largest union, has warned.

DHL, which employs 37,000 transport and logistics workers in the UK, is involved in complex pension talks, which, Unite believes, could see an eventual race to the bottom in pension provision that other big UK employers would ape. 

Unite national officer for road transport, logistics and retail distribution Matt Draper warned that the union was prepared to ballot its members for industrial action in defence of their pensions. 

The current DHL pension set up is: 

  • A final salary scheme, covering about 3,500, which the company wants to close at the end of year. Consultations are underway on this scheme to which the employer contributes about 12 per cent 
  • The Voyager defined contribution scheme, covering about 16,000, to which the employee contributes three to four per cent and the employer matches that figure 
  • The government’s new auto-enrolment scheme, covering the rest of the workforce, with the employer contributions rising to three per cent. 

What concerns Unite is that the management won’t give guarantees that the Voyager scheme will continue in the future and that workers will have to be covered by the less financially beneficial auto-enrolment scheme.

Unite also points out that DHL raised €2 billion to meet its pension obligations to its German workforce where pension protection legislation is stronger.

Matt Draper said: “We are seeking copper-bottomed guarantees that the Voyager scheme will continue in its present form and that the auto-enrolment scheme won’t become the pension scheme of choice by default.

“We are very concerned about the proposed final salary scheme’s closure, as we see future retirement benefits being substantially diminished as a result for this section of the workforce. We want the scheme to continue for existing members.

“Ironically, DHL could find €2 billion for its German workforce as pension rules are tighter there – it is a shame that it can’t do the same for its final salary scheme in the UK.

“DHL is a highly profitable company and we don’t want to see it at the forefront of eroding retirement incomes in a race to the bottom that could act as Trojan Horse for other employers to follow in debasing pensions in the UK.

“We estimate that nearly 20,000 DHL employees could be adversely affected by these complex pension changes – and we will consider very strongly an industrial action ballot, if negotiations fail to achieve a fair and equitable settlement for our members.”

ENDS

For further information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 07768 693940

  • Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.