Unite is set to ballot its 6,000 members at Tata Steel UK for industrial action over its proposal to close the British Steel pension scheme (BSPS).
Unite’s ballot for strike action and industrial action short of a strike will open on Tuesday, May 26 and close on Friday, June 5.
Steel unions Community, GMB and Ucatt have already opened their Tata Steel ballots which will close on May 29.
At present, workers can retire at the age of 60 without an actuarial reduction. The company’s view is that they should now work until the age of 65 for a full pension. If they were to retire at age 60 then, they would lose five per cent for each year of early retirement – 25 per cent in total.
Unite national officer for steel Paul Reuter explained why members consider this proposal untenable.
“Following five months of intensive negotiations where the trade unions offered savings to the company of £850m, Tata Steel UK has decided that it is ideologically wrong for employees, who have worked hard in an extremely strenuous and physically demanding environment, to be able to retire with the pensions that they were originally promised,” Reuter said.
“Tata Steel UK is consulting our members on its proposal to close the pension scheme and to financially penalise workers and their families in retirement,” he added. “Our members have made it clear that the proposed changes are totally unacceptable.
Reuter noted that unless Tata Steel UK entered into further meaningful negotiations that would preserve the pension scheme, then “the first national industrial action in the industry for 30 years would seem inevitable.”
Unite’s members include crane drivers, erectors, fitters, riggers, turners and welders. The main sites are at Corby, Llanwern, Port Talbot, Scunthorpe, Shotton and Workington.
As UniteLive reported last month, the potential closure of the British Steel pension scheme will affect 17,000 workers.