Wednesday, May 6, 2015

News: Steelworkers sent strike ballot papers

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Steelworkers are set to receive their ballot papers today regarding industrial action following Tata Steel'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 in March 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 unanimously authorised a ballot of the union's members.

Unions - Community, GMB, and UCATT - gave official legal notice to Tata Steel UK Ltd about their intention last week with Unite expected to follow suit.

The unions are urging their members to vote in favour of strike action and action short of strike action.

Roy Rickhuss, Chair of the National Trade Union Steel Co-ordinating Committee and General Secretary of Community, said: "Unfortunately there is no sign of Tata showing any willingness to work in a collaborative and co-operative spirit and re-enter meaningful discussions with the trade unions about the future of the British Steel Pension Scheme (BSPS). To defend the hard-earned pensions of our members we have no choice but to ballot for industrial action.

"This is not a situation we wanted to find ourselves in. The unions were prepared to discuss changes that resolved the challenges faced by the scheme but Tata rejected that constructive offer. We are urging our members to vote for strike action."

Dave Hulse, National Officer for steel, at GMB said: "Tata has refused to sit down and talk again about a proper solution and has given us no option but to ballot our members. Our members are determined to stand up for their pensions and they will now have the opportunity to show their resolve by voting for strike action."

Nick Blundell, UCATT Regional Secretary for Ucatt, said: "Our members are united in their opposition to the closure of their pension scheme and we are urging them to vote yes in the ballot to defend their pensions."

Over 2,000 people are employed by the company in South Yorkshire where sites like Stocksbridge in Sheffield and Aldwarke in Rotherham, focus on exceptional high-value products and sectors.

Tata Steel is creating a new R&D centre at the University of Warwick, a move that signals the end for its Research & Development (R&D) site in Rotherham.

Tata Steel website

Images: Tata Steel

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