Friday, March 27, 2015

News: Pensions dispute with Tata escalates

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The National Executive Council (NEC) of the Community trade union, which represents the majority of the Tata Steel workforce, has unanimously authorised a ballot of the union's members over industrial action following Tata's decision to close its final salary pension scheme.

At a mass meeting of trade union representatives from across Tata Steel's UK operations, which includes sites in Rotherham and Sheffield, senior managers from Tata Steel announced their intention to close the British Steel Pension Scheme (BSPS) to future accrual.

Tata Steel began a statutory 60-day consultation about the changes this week and the company is proposing closure of the scheme on April 1 2016.

With the prospect of no new members joining or any further benefits or entitlements being built up under the scheme, steel unions have agreed the following statement:

"On 24 March 2015, an extraordinary meeting of the NEC was convened to discuss the company's decision to close the British Steel Pension Scheme as announced 13 March. The NEC discussed in detail the circumstances that led the trade unions to the brink of a national dispute, and representatives expressed their profound anger and disappointment at the company's unnecessary and unjustified actions. After due consideration the following resolution was proposed and subsequently endorsed: The NEC hereby authorises the general secretary to ballot the membership within Tata Steel UK for industrial action in protection of the British Steel Pension Scheme, and to call for any industrial action deemed necessary in furtherance of the dispute."

Paul McBean, Community NEC member for the union's Yorkshire and Humber region, and Chair of the Multi-Union at Tata Steel Scunthorpe, said: "We have tried to bring Tata back to the negotiating table, but to no avail. Even after coming up with schemes to bridge all of the deficit Tata did not want to know and are hell-bent on closing the scheme. After all that we have done for the company, working with them to save money to keep the company going forward, the efforts and sacrifices of our members have been thrown in their faces by Tata. This response is totally unacceptable to Community and its members and we know we need to stand up to Tata."

Roy Rickhuss, general secretary of the Community trade union, added: "Our National Executive Council recognises that this is not just about Tata Steel, it's about an attack on the terms and conditions of Community members. That's why NEC members from outside steel spoke so passionately in support of the course of action that we have been forced to take because of Tata's unjustified decision to close the British Steel Pension Scheme. In the coming days and weeks we will be calling on our members to stand up to Tata and stand up for their pension and they will have the full support of their union behind them."

Further details were released this week of the Advanced Steel Research Hub at the University of Warwick. Working with Tata Steel the centre has secured £14.5m from the Government's UK Research Partnership Investment Fund and will ultimately lead to the relocation of R&D activity from Tata's Swinden Technology Centre in Rotherham.

Tata Steel website
Community Union website

Images: Community Union

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