UK - A plan by petrochemical company INEOS to close its final salary pension scheme to new members and reduce provision to existing members could threaten fuel supplies to the whole of the UK.
The company has moved to reduce its contributions to the scheme and has made other changes for employees, including introducing financial penalties for early retirement. The union Unite said these changes were made against the wishes of the pension scheme members during the six month consultation.
However, INEOS said over a quarter of the money it spent on employees at Grangemouth went into the pension scheme and independent experts had predicted this figure could rise to almost 50% going forward - a figure which was unsustainable in the longer term.
INEOS is proposing to retain a final salary scheme for all existing members, paying 1/60th salary for every year worked.
The company has proposed a 6% employee contribution, phased in over the next six years, which means the workforce would have to make a contribution to their retirement for the first time.
A different plan is proposed for future new employees but INEOS said it would continue to allow it to attract highly skilled workers to the Grangemouth site.
Unite joint national officer for the petrochemicals industry, Phil McNulty, said: "The existing pension arrangement is excellent and the fact that the business is highly successful means that the INEOS pension scheme should be one of the best and the most secure in the country.
"Industrial action is never desirable but this is the only possible sanction against a company prepared to make such an audacious attack against our members."
However, INEOS claimed Unite had turned down an invitation by the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) to attend talks to help solve the Grangemouth dispute.
Tom Crotty, INEOS CEO, said: "We have always made it clear that the company is ready to attend talks at ACAS to help end the current dispute.
"It is extremely disappointing to hear that Unite is not willing to involve ACAS at this stage.
"The union's planned strike could have significant consequences for Scotland and the north of England and we would urge them to work with us to find a way of resolving this issue."
INEOS said it would write to all 1350 Grangemouth employees asking them to accept a new set of revised pension proposals.
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