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Put Nestle Pension Changes On Hold

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

GMB Say Detrimental Nestlé Pension Changes Should Be Put ‘On Hold’, While Fund Is Valued 

Actuarial valuation in December 2015 will provide informed position on scheme and is logical point to discuss what actions are required from all stakeholders to maintain the sustainability of it says GMB.

GMB and Unite are calling for changes to the Nestlé pension scheme that could mean that 7,600 workers losing thousands of pounds in retirement income to be put ‘on hold’ until a proper valuation of the scheme in December. See notes to editors for copy of previous GMB release on the proposed changes to the scheme dated 2nd July 2015.

If the current proposals go ahead the career average scheme will be closed to new entrants from 2016 and closed to future pension build up for existing members from the start of 2017. 

The changes will affect workers making Nestlé products across the UK ranging from pet food and bottled water to confectionary and breakfast cereals.

The Nestle workers impacted by changes are based in the following locations: UK Head Office in Gatwick, York, Dalston in Cumbria, Fawdon in Newcastle upon Tyne, Girvan, Halifax, Tutbury and Buxton in Staffs, Rickmansworth, Welwyn Garden City, Bromborough in Wirral, Staverton near Trowbridge, Sudbury in Suffolk, Wisbech in Cambridgeshire, Aintree and Brunswick Business Park in Liverpool. 

GMB  and Unite have told the company that the union are ‘totally opposed’ to Nestlé’s plans to close the defined benefit scheme, currently offered on a career average basis and replace it with a defined contribution or ‘money purchase’ scheme.

Stuart Fegan, GMB national officer for the manufacturing sector and Julia Long, Unite national officer for food and drink say in a joint letter to the company that  the unions were not engaging in the consultation process as it is ‘a fait accompli on introducing these detrimental changes’.

The two unions are calling for the consultation process to be suspended ‘in favour of constructive negotiations’. 

On 2nd July the unions accused the company of an ‘act of betrayal’ as the proposals backtrack on pension changes introduced five years ago which saw the final salary pension scheme scrapped for a career average scheme on the understanding that it would be an industry leading scheme. A ‘money purchase’ scheme was also introduced at the time.

Stuart Fegan, GMB national officer for the manufacturing sector and Julia Long, Unite national officer for food and drink said in the joint letter “We are aware that an actuarial valuation of the scheme is due to take place in December 2015 which would, in our view, provide us a more informed position on the health of the scheme and be the logical point to discuss what actions maybe be required from all stakeholders to maintain the sustainability of it. 

In this sense we believe Nestle is acting in a precipitous manner.

Nestlé that can well afford to maintain the present defined benefit pension scheme, as it is making increasing profits in the UK and in international markets, and can’t blame the long period of low interest rates and low gilt returns for the proposed changes.

The company has placed the sole part of its case on the current economic position rather than sufficiently evaluating what Nestle could lose by making these changes to the scheme in terms of retaining a skilled workforce within the business and the employee engagement that the defined benefit scheme contributes to Nestle.”

Ends

Contact: GMB National Officer Stuart Fegan on 020 7391 6762 or 07912 890434 or GMB Press Office 07921 289880;  or Unite head of media and campaigns Alex Flynn on 020 3371 2066 or 07967 665869 or Shaun Noble on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940.

Notes to editors

Copy of GMB press release dated 2nd July 2015

Dispute Looms With Nestle Over Pensions ‘Betrayal’

Strike action if these proposals are implemented looms large across Nestle in the UK at present says GMB

GMB and Unite unions accused Nestle UK of acting in ‘bad faith’ today (Thursday 2 July) as the company announced plans to close its career average pension scheme in a move that unpicks pension changes agreed in 2010. See notes to editors for copy of company statement dated 2nd July 2015.

Warning that the move could be seen as an ‘act of betrayal’ by the workforce, the unions urged the company to think again. Under the plans Nestle wants to close the defined benefit scheme, currently offered on a career average basis and replace it with a defined contribution or ‘money purchase’ scheme.

The proposals backtrack on pension changes introduced five years ago which saw the final salary pension scheme scrapped for a career average scheme on the understanding that it would be an industry leading scheme. A money purchase scheme was also introduced at the time.

If the proposals go ahead the career average scheme will be closed to new entrants from 2016 and close to future pension build up for existing members from the start of 2017.

Unions say that the changes will effect workers making Nestle products across the UK ranging from pet food and bottled water to confectionary and breakfast cereals.

The Nestle workers impacted by this announcement are based in the following locations: UK Head Office in Gatwick, York, Dalston in Cumbria, Fawdon in Newcastle upon Tyne, Girvan, Halifax, Tutbury and Buxton in Staffs, Rickmansworth, Welwyn Garden City, Bromborough in Wirral, Staverton near Trowbridge, Sudbury in Suffolk, Wisbech in Cambridgeshire, Aintree and Brunswick Business Park in Liverpool. 

Stuart Fegan, GMB National Officer, said: “Over 7,600 Nestle workers in the UK which these proposals will affect will wonder why a company such as Nestle generating significant profit here and in other world markets can justify such detrimental plans. Particularly as these proposals directly affect those Nestle workers who manufacture the products that make Nestle the leading world food manufacturer.

We urge Nestle to think again on these proposals as we fear that the UK workforce will not accept these changes willingly.

Strike action with all its consequences for Nestle's corporate brand if these proposals are implemented, looms large across Nestle in the UK at present."

Julia Long, Unite national officer, said: “Many loyal workers will feel led up the garden path and see these changes as an act of betrayal by Nestle. Five years ago they agreed to pension changes in good faith on the understanding that their pension would be secure for the future.

Now Nestle is tearing up their contracts with their future with many workers facing being worse off in retirement. We will not stand by and let that happen and would urge Nestle to think again and honour its past promises.”

ENDS

Copy of company statement dated 2nd July.

NESTLÉ ANNOUNCES PROPOSAL TO MAKE CHANGES TO PENSION FUND

Today (2.7.15) Nestlé UK has advised its employees of a proposal to close its defined benefit pension scheme and replace it with a defined contribution scheme.

In 2010 the Company introduced the option of a defined contribution scheme for employees, while continuing to offer a defined benefit scheme.

Unfortunately, the costs and risks of providing a defined benefit scheme have continued to increase substantially in recent years. With regret the Company is therefore proposing its closure and replacement with one of the most attractive defined contribution schemes available.

The Company will now enter into consultation with employees and Trade Unions and will give careful consideration to their response to the proposed changes before any final decision is made.

Ends

For further queries please contact the Nestle UK Press Office on: 0208 667 6005 or email nestleukpressoffice@uk.nestle.com

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