Industrial action is threatened at the prestige Aston Martin carmaker as workers face losing about £100,000 in retirement income if the defined benefit (career average) scheme is closed from February next year.
Unite the union said its members affected by the proposal at Gaydon and Wellesbourne (both in Warwickshire); Milton Keynes; Newport Pagnell; and St Athan in South Wales had voted overwhelmingly in a consultative ballot that they wanted to hold a full-scale industrial action ballot in the New Year to protect their retirement incomes.
Aston Martin Lagonda Ltd wants to close the defined benefit (DB) scheme on January 31 which the union’s pension experts estimate could cost members about £100,000 over the course of their retirement, depending on their individual circumstances. The company wants to move the DB members to the existing defined contribution (DC) scheme which covers the majority of the workforce and also new employees.
However, Unite argues that such DC schemes are at the mercy of sudden fluctuations in global stock markets and produce worse retirement incomes. The consultation period is due to end on Friday (December 17). The union has called for it to be extended, but that request has, so far, been declined by the management.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said, “We will back our members at Aston Martin 100 per cent if they decide to take industrial action to defend their pensions and defeat this threat to their retirement incomes.
“These workers have done as asked and saved for their retirement, but they have also worked hard to deliver improved profits for Aston Martin,” she added. “There is, therefore, no case to be made for closing the defined benefit pension schemes, a move that robs our members of tens of thousands of pounds – in the case of Aston Martin workers, that is about £100,000.
“Aston Martin’s whole workforce is now aware of the gross inadequacy of the existing defined contribution scheme by comparison – and this will be a significant factor when we put forward our claim in the 2022 pay review.”
Unite is dedicated to advancing the jobs, pay and conditions of its members and will fight back against any efforts to diminish workers’ living standards.
By Shaun Noble