Unite has demanded urgent talks after it was revealed yesterday (September 7) that British Airways intends to close its main pension scheme.
Blaming low interest rates and rising life expectancy, which the company said had increased the pension deficit, BA announced it will close its defined benefit scheme to future accrual.
The Guardian reported that BA is considering opening a new pension scheme, which will combine those 17,000 members on the defined benefit scheme with 20,000 other members on a less generous scheme that is tied to performance of investments – and not salary and length of service like the defined scheme.
The news comes as BA cabin crew have continued in a protracted dispute with the company over pay and the sanctioning of striking workers. So far this year, there have been more than 80 days of strike action.
Unite and the GMB union warned British Airways that the company could face further consequences if the company did not come to the table and negotiate over pensions.
“Unite and GMB within British Airways must express on behalf of our members and in the strongest possible terms, both our dismay and bitter disappointment at the news that British Airways has announced its intention to close its main pension scheme,” the statement said.
“Thousands of loyal and long serving staff, who have helped build British Airways into a world class flag carrier for this country and one of the most recognisable global brands, now face uncertainty in their retirement.
“Our team of financial analysts has worked tirelessly with the airline over the last few months to explore ways to keep the pension scheme open and secure it for the future,” Unite and the GMB added.
“This announcement sadly confirms that our advice has gone unheeded and that we have been unable to convince British Airways that keeping the scheme open is the right thing to do, for both the company and its employees.
“Instead of certainty many will now face uncertainty as their retirement approaches. We would expect better treatment of its own staff from such a ‘premium brand’.
“Both unions jointly demand urgent talks to discuss both the impact of this announcement, if a solution can be found and, if not, the consequences the airline may face.”