Tata Steel workers ‘yes’ to pension reforms
Members of three unions backed changes by around 3-1, giving a mandate to “move forward” following months of uncertainty.
Steelworkers have made great sacrifices to ensure the UK’s world-class steel industry has a future. Those sacrifices must be repaid by Tata Steel honouring its commitments on investment and job securityTony Brady, Unite national officer
The Tata Steel business includes mills in Brenda Road in Hartlepool where 500 people work.
Roy Rickhuss, leader of the Community union, said steelworkers had taken a “tough decision”, and said Tata was now expected to deliver a £1 billion investment plan.
Members of Community voted 72% in favour, on a turnout of 70%, Unite reported a 75% vote in favour on a 69% turnout, while GMB said its members voted yes by 74% in a 51% turnout.
Mr Rickhuss said: “Steelworkers have taken a tough decision and have shown they are determined to safeguard jobs and secure the long-term future of steelmaking.”
Unite national officer Tony Brady said: “Steelworkers have made great sacrifices to ensure the UK’s world-class steel industry has a future. Those sacrifices must be repaid by Tata Steel honouring its commitments on investment and job security.”
Dave Hulse, of the GMB, said: “Now that steelworkers have done their bit, it is time for the Government step up and do theirs.”
Leaders of the three unions recommended acceptance of the changes as the best that could be achieved through negotiation. The changes include the introduction of a defined contribution (DC) pension scheme, with maximum employer contributions of 10%, following the closure of the British Steel Pension Scheme (BSPS) to future accrual.
The BSPS is one of Britain’s largest pension schemes, with 130,000 members. Tata inherited the scheme when it bought Corus, formerly state-owned British Steel, in 2007.
A Government spokesman said: “This positive vote is an important step forward for the future of Port Talbot and Tata Steel in the UK and it is now vital that all parties work together to deliver on the agreed proposals.
“It is testament to the commitment of its workforce that they are willing to work so constructively with the owners to secure the future of the plant. The Government will play its role in supporting the steel industry to help deliver a sustainable future.”
The Indian conglomerate said last year that it would sell its UK business but it has since decided to seek a partner and has been in lengthy talks with German firm ThyssenKrupp.
A Tata Steel spokesman said: “We acknowledge the result of the trade unions’ ballot.
“We recognise this has been a difficult decision for employees.
“It shows employees are doing everything they can to develop a sustainable future for the business.
“We will continue to work with the trade unions and other stakeholders to deliver Tata Steel UK’s transformation plan and develop a sustainable future for the business.”