A 1,000 workers employed by United Utilities in the north west of England will strike for two days in a pensions’ dispute which could see them thousands of pounds worse off in retirement.
The workers, members of Unite are protesting at the closure of their final salary pension scheme on April 1, 2018 which is being replaced by a hybrid scheme.
The workers will strike for 24-hours, starting at just past midnight on Friday (March 16) and the next Monday (March 19), as well as imposing an overtime ban, no call outs and suspending an advice service mainly for local authorities between 16-23 March inclusive.
Unite is calling for the pension changes to be reversed – especially as United Utilities made £650m in net profits last year.
Unite said that if the dispute escalates it will mean that essential maintenance of the water system for domestic and corporate customers across the north west will seriously deteriorate.
“On any scale United Utilities is a highly profitable company – all we are asking for our members is a pension arrangement in line with the 21st century,” said Unite regional officer Graham Williams. “That’s not unreasonable and the company can afford it.
“If this dispute escalates it will be the domestic and corporate consumer who will be hit as the maintenance of the system slowly erodes and this will hit United Utilities where it hurts – in the wallet as consumer dissatisfaction mounts.
“We call on the management to sit down and negotiate a modern and progressive pension scheme. We are not prepared to see our members lose thousands of pounds in retirement income.
“What the company is imposing from April 1 is a hybrid scheme where the first £20,000 of salary is subject to the final salary provisions and any sum above that will be a defined contribution element, which is subject to the vagaries of the global stock markets. The final salary scheme was closed to new entrants in 2006.”