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Tata Steel May Pensions Ballot

Monday, April 13, 2015

GMB Set May Dates For Ballot For Industrial Action Over Tata Steel Proposal To Close Pension Scheme To Future Accrual

We are sending are clear message to the company that nobody wants to see the scheme closed because they know the impact it will have on themselves and their families says GMB.

GMB and the other steel unions Community, Unite, and UCATT will give an official notice on 27th April that on Wednesday 6th May they will commence an official ballot for industrial action over Tata Steel's proposal to close the British Steel Pension Scheme (BSPS). See notes to editors for copy of GMB press release of 13th March on the dispute over plans to close the scheme.

The ballot is expected to end on Friday 29th May. The unions are continuing to take legal advice and making preparations to ensure that the ballot meets all legal requirements and cannot be challenged by Tata.

As of December 2014, the British Steel Pension Scheme had 143,000 members, with 17,004 making up employee members and 91,264 making up pensioner members. As of November 2014, the assets of the scheme were valued at around £13.6 billion and continue to increase.

Dave Hulse, GMB National Officer, said "GMB members want to stand up to Tata and stand up for their pension scheme. By balloting for industrial action we are sending a clear message to the company that nobody wants to see the scheme closed because they know the impact it will have on themselves and their families.”

Roy Rickhuss, Chair of the National Trade Union Steel Co-ordinating Committee and General Secretary of Community, said "Tata Steel Europe management have not taken up the unions' offer to re-enter discussions about the pension scheme. Our members are determined to stand up for their pension and therefore we have no option but to proceed to an industrial action ballot in May.

We do not believe Tata Steel Europe's decision to close the BSPS is in line with Tata's values, which commit its companies to improve the quality of life of the communities they serve. Closing the pension scheme will not help our members, their families or their communities. Steelworkers want to stand up to Tata and stand up for their pension and a positive vote in the ballot will enable that to happen."  

Harish Patel, National Officer for steel at Unite, said "All the unions are working together to defend our members' pensions. There can be no doubt about the strength of feeling among employees in opposition to Tata Steel Europe's unnecessary and unjustified decision to close the British Steel Pension Scheme. The only solution now to change the company's course of action is to ballot for industrial action."

End

Contact: David Hulse 07971 266157 or GMB press office 07921 289880

Notes to editors

GMB press release dated 13th March 2015:

GMB TO SEEK AUTHORITY TO BALLOT MEMBERS OVER TATA STEEL PROPOSAL TO CLOSE PENSION SCHEME TO FUTURE ACCRUAL

We feel we have no option but to consult our members and prepare to ballot for industrial action to defend their hard won pension rights says GMB

GMB and over unions in the steel industry are now preparing to ballot their members for industrial action as senior managers from Tata Steel announced their intention on 13 March to close the British Steel Pension Scheme (BSPS) to future accrual.

The decision was communicated to a mass meeting of trade union representatives GMB, Unite and Community from across Tata Steel's UK operations which was held at TUC Congress House in London. 

As of December 2014, the British Steel Pension Scheme had 143,000 members, with 17,004 making up employee members and 91,264 making up pensioner members. As of November 2014, the assets of the scheme were valued at around £13.6 billion and continue to increase.

David Hulse, GMB National Officer, said "Tata Steel's decision to close the BSPS is unnecessary and profoundly disappointing. It is not a position we expected to find ourselves in given that trade unions have been in discussions with the company since early November. Throughout a long process we have acted in good faith and negotiated constructively in trying to reach an agreement which addresses what we acknowledge to be a significant deficit in the scheme.

We have made every effort to compromise with the company, even discussing the possibility of meeting the deficit through changes to member benefits, despite the fact the company is legally obliged to pay for the deficit and has always done so in the past.

Sadly, the company rejected this offer out of hand. It appears they are hellbent on closing the scheme and are not prepared to compromise. We have lost all faith in the company and its leadership, which has brought us to the brink of a major national industrial dispute for the first time in over 30 years. The senior management of Tata Steel Europe should seriously consider their positions for bringing about this total breakdown in trust.

We feel we have no option but to consult our members and prepare to ballot for industrial action to defend their hard won pension rights.”

Ends

 

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