Members of Britain’s largest union, Unite, working for Tata Steel UK Ltd have overwhelmingly voted for industrial action over the company’s plans to close the British Steel pension scheme (BSPS) and make employees work five more years to get their full pension.
70 per cent backed strike action on a turnout of 66 per cent amid accusations that Tata Steel’s management was on the verge of provoking the biggest crisis in the steel industry for a generation.
Unite along with other steel unions, Community, GMB and Ucatt has already offered pension savings of £850 million to the company after five months of intensive negotiations. Despite this, Tata Steel UK is seeking to plough ahead with changes forcing employees to work an extra five years until they are 65 to receive their full pension.
At present, workers can retire at the age of 60 without an actuarial reduction. Instead the company is insisting that workers wishing to retire at 60 will lose five per cent of each year of early retirement – 25 per cent in total.
Unite will be meeting with the other steel unions next week to discuss next steps including industrial action.
Unite national officer for steel Paul Reuter said: “Our members have made it clear that they are not prepared to have their contracts with their futures torn up in front of their eyes.
“We have offered Tata Steel UK the savings it says it needs. Instead the company is hell bent on making people who work in a physically demanding environment graft unnecessarily for a further five years to get their full pension.
“Tata Steel UK’s plans will financially penalise workers and rob them of their retirement they are working so hard for.
“We would urge Tata to reflect on the anger demonstrated by the ballot result and avoid the possibility of the first national industrial action in the industry for 30 years by entering into further meaningful talks.”
For further information please contact Unite head of media and campaigns Alex Flynn on 020 3371 2066 or 07967 665869.
Notes to editors:
Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.