Monday, June 15, 2015

News: Tata turns to ACAS in pensions dispute

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Tata Steel UK Ltd has launched a new initiative in its efforts to resolve the pension dispute with its UK trade unions. The company has approached ACAS (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) to help facilitate the next phase in talks between the parties.

ACAS is an organisation devoted to preventing and resolving employment disputes and provides free, impartial advice and information to employers and employees.

The dispute is around Tata Steel's proposed changes to its pension scheme, which include closing the British Steel Pension Scheme (BSPS) to future accrual. The scheme is faced with a projected shortfall of up to £2 billion, which both the company and the unions agree makes change necessary. To pay for a deficit in the pension scheme, the company proposed to introduce a cap on pensionable earnings and end the early retirement provisions whereby members can retire at 60 with a full pension.

Steel unions agreed Monday June 22 as the date for strike action with members standing up for their pensions, hoping to get Tata back round the table to look for a way to resolve the dispute over the changes.

Industrial action, consisting of an overtime ban and a work to rule, is currently scheduled to start on Tuesday June 16, with a one-day strike planned for Monday June 22.

Over 2,000 people are employed by the company in South Yorkshire and the Indian-owned steelmaker has a number of operations in Rotherham.

Tor Farquhar, executive director of Human Resources at Tata Steel's European operations, said: "We have contacted ACAS to bring in independent expertise in mediating a resolution to the UK pension dispute. We have requested ACAS to immediately approach the National Trade Union Steel Coordinating Committee to ask them to attend talks.

"We have been talking to the trade unions since November 2014 to develop a fair and sustainable pension scheme for all UK employees.

"The company and unions agree that changes need to be made to tackle the scheme's projected shortfall of up to £2 billion.

"It remains the company's intention to provide a high quality and competitive pension scheme for our employees while continuing Tata Steel's significant record of investing in its UK assets so we can build a sustainable business here."

ACAS said yesterday: "We've been in contact with all the parties involved and they are attending ACAS talks in London at 11am tomorrow."

Tata Steel website

Images: Tata Steel

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