Steelworkers to vote on strike action

Tata Steel, Brenda Road, Hartlepool. Picture By FRANK REID

Tata Steel, Brenda Road, Hartlepool. Picture By FRANK REID

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STEELWORKERS will be balloted on potential strike action over pensions.

Three unions – Community, GMB, and UCATT – have given official legal notice to Tata Steel about their intention to ballot their members for industrial action. Unite, a fourth steel union, is expected to give notice in the next few days.

This is not a situation we wanted to find ourselves in. The unions were prepared to discuss changes that resolved the challenges faced by the scheme but Tata rejected that constructive offer. We are urging our members to vote for strike action.

Roy Rickhuss, chairman of the National Trade Union Steel Co-ordinating Committee and General Secretary of Community

Ballot papers will be posted to union members from Wednesday, May 6. The unions are urging their members to vote in favour of strike action and action short of strike action.

Roy Rickhuss, chairman of the National Trade Union Steel Co-ordinating Committee and General Secretary of Community, said there was “no sign of Tata showing any willingness to work in a collaborative and co-operative spirit and re-enter meaningful discussions with the trade unions about the future of the British Steel Pension Scheme (BSPS).”

Dave Hulse, national officer for steel, at GMB said: “Tata has refused to sit down and talk again about a proper solution and has given us no option but to ballot our members.”

Nick Blundell, UCATT Regional Secretary for Ucatt, said: “Our members are united in their opposition to the closure of their pension scheme and we are urging them to vote yes in the ballot to defend their pensions.”

Tata Steel has a plant in Brenda Road in Hartlepool. A company spokesman said: “We are aware of the proposed date of the ballot.

“The company tabled proposals to the national officers of the trade unions, whereby the defined benefit (final salary) scheme would remain open to future accruals subject to a number of modifications.

“As agreement with the trade unions on these proposals could not be reached, the company has initiated a 60-day statutory consultation period with scheme members on a proposal to close the scheme to future accruals for existing members.”