UK - Hundreds of bus company workers are set to strike over the closure of their final salary scheme to new members.
RMT members at the Wilts and Dorset bus company have voted 404 to 33 in favour of industrial action.
But the outcome of similar ballots at chemical firm Rhodia, logistics firm Exel and rail infrastructure firm Carillion could see the striking numbers rocket into the thousands over final salary scheme closures.
RMT said it was still in last-ditch talks with Wilts and Dorset, but strike dates have been posted for June 19 and 24. This would be the first strike over a company closing its DB scheme to new members.
Two years ago RMT members voted to accept a plan to pay more contributions and reduce benefits. At the same time the company reduced its contributions to 6.1% of pensionable pay.
RMT general secretary Bob Crow said: “The company has betrayed the trust of its workforce.
“It has used the good times of the past to enjoy contributions holidays, but now it is refusing to obey its own rules and make up the shortfall it helped create – and even now the company is not paying full whack.”
Wilts and Dorset managing director Hugh Malone stressed that the company had to control pension costs and had given employees significant pension increases.
Malone said: “There is a pension fund deficit and an ongoing funding issue which we have discussed with the RMT. T
“hose discussions are still continuing and until such a time as the company breaks the agreement it has with the RMT there is no reason for them to take industrial action.”
At an actuarial valuation in April 2002 the 400-member pension scheme had £22m in liabilities and a deficit of £5.4m.
On Rhodia’s intentions to close its final salary scheme, GMB general secretary Kevin Curran said: “Closing the scheme to new members is just the first step that this company will take to eventually strip current workers of their hard-earned pensions.”
Rhodia said it could not sustain the current volatility and long-term cost impact of a DB scheme for new employees.
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