Thursday, July 16, 2015

News: Tata Steel pensions dispute ends

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Members of all four unions at Tata Steel have voted to accept changes to the British Steel Pension Scheme (BSPS) which will keep the scheme open, ending the prospect of the first steel strike in 30 years.

The dispute is around Tata Steel's proposed changes to its pension scheme, which included closing the 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.

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

As strike action loomed, the new pension offer was reached following talks between Tata Steel and the unions facilitated by the conciliation service ACAS. Following a ballot, union members have voted to accept proposal to keep scheme open.

Roy Rickhuss, general secretary of Community and chair of the National Trade Union Steel Co-ordinating Committee said: "The challenges will not end here. There is more to do both to resolve the concerns of our members at Tata Steel and to meet the wider challenges faced by the UK steel industry. It was apparent during this dispute that the company was not listening to the concerns of its workforce, which led to a serious breakdown in trust and confidence. All unions have already begun a dialogue with the company to address these issues."

A Tata Steel spokesman added: "We note the result of the UK pension ballot, with trade union members agreeing to the modified proposal recommended to them by the company and trade unions.

"The agreed proposal represents a fair and balanced solution in which UK employees will continue to be provided with high-quality pensions. The new arrangements, including the modifications to scheme benefits, will address a significant proportion of the pension scheme's projected deficit. Other actions to be agreed with the pension Trustee will address the balance.

"The company will now proceed with the completion of the statutory consultation process and continue to engage with the trade unions."

Tata Steel website

Images: Tata Steel

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