Workers at AWE plc – the Atomic Weapons Establishment – will be lobbying MPs over their pensions’ ‘betrayal’ at the Houses of Parliament tomorrow (December 6).
The lobby will coincide with a second 24-hour strike on Tuesday (December 6) by members of Unite in the dispute over the threat to close the defined benefit pension scheme and substitute it with an inferior alternative.
Chaired by Ian Mearns MP speakers at the lobby include: Unite general secretary Len McCluskey, Untie AWE rep Scott Kemp, Angela Rayner MP and Ian Lavery MP, as well Unite south east regional secretary Jennie Formby.
Hundreds of employees will also be striking at AWE’s two sites at Aldermaston and Burghfield in Berkshire, following the first one-day strike on November 14.
“It was in the House of Commons a quarter of century ago that the then-Tory government made cast-iron promises to AWE workers regarding the future of their pensions, once they transferred to the private sector,” said Unite regional officer Bob Middleton.
“It is, therefore, fitting that AWE workers return to lobby parliament on Tuesday and make appointments to see their local MPs so that the AWE management does not backtrack on those pension pledges. Our members feel deeply betrayed.”
Unite members, who work as managers, and craft and manual workers, are particularly irked at broken promises made by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) in the early 1990s, which was underpinned by a ministerial statement to the Commons.
The union said that if those promises had been honoured it would not have precipitated plans to close the scheme at the end of the year.
Unite members have voted by 92 per cent for strike action and by 97 per cent for industrial action short of a strike.
Currently, AWE scheme members pay 10 per cent of their salary into the scheme and the employer pays 26 per cent. Under the AWE’s new proposals, employees will be able to pay from three per cent to nine per cent; with AWE paying from seven per cent (if an employee pays three per cent) to 13 per cent (if an employee pays nine per cent or more).
AWE plc, which employs about 4,000 people, is a consortium of two American-owned companies Lockheed Martin and Jacobs Engineering, and UK-listed Serco.