Steel unions Community, Unite, GMB and Ucatt have announced that Wednesday 6 May is the date they intend to open an industrial action ballot over Tata Steel's proposal to close the British Steel pension scheme (BSPS). The ballot is expected to end on Friday 29 May. The unions are continuing to take legal advice and make preparations to ensure that the ballot meets all legal requirements and cannot be challenged by Tata.
Roy Rickhuss, chair of the National Trade Union Steel Co-ordinating Committee and general secretary of Community said: "Tata Steel Europe management have not taken up the unions' offer to re-enter discussions about the pension scheme. Our members are determined to stand up for their pension and therefore we have no option but to proceed to an industrial action ballot in May.
"We do not believe Tata Steel Europe's decision to close the BSPS is in line with Tata's values, which commit its companies to improve the quality of life of the communities they serve. Closing the pension scheme will not help our members, their families or their communities. Steelworkers want to stand up to Tata and stand up for their pension and a positive vote in the ballot will enable that to happen."
Harish Patel, national officer for steel at Unite, said: "All the unions are working together to defend our members' pensions. There can be no doubt about the strength of feeling among employees in opposition to Tata Steel Europe's unnecessary and unjustified decision to close the British Steel pension scheme. The only solution now to change the company's course of action is to ballot for industrial action."
Dave Hulse, national secretary at GMB, said: "Our members want to stand up to Tata and stand up for their pension and by balloting for industrial action we will be sending that clear message to the company. Nobody wants to see the scheme closed because they know the impact it will have on themselves and their families."
Wednesday 6 May is intended to be the first day that ballot papers will be sent to union members who are eligible to vote.
For further information please contact Community Director of Communications Matt Ball