UK - Trade unionists are considering legal action against chemical giant Akzo Nobel over reinstating workers to its final salary scheme.
The Transport & General Workers’ Union has accused the Dutch giant of “blatant corporate irresponsibility” and claims the firm cited likely costs of the Pension Protection Fund as a pretext for axing the scheme.
But Akzo insists the workers concerned are no longer employed by the company and can only remain part of the scheme as deferred members.
It says the T&G members affected are employed by Corsardi, which was formed out of Akzo subsidiary Accordis but subsequently sold-off last August.
But T&G national organiser for manufacturing Peter Booth believes the Dutch firm should honour the pledge it made to workers in 1999 that their pensions were secure for 10 years.
He said that guarantee was now meaningless and that “loyal service, through company changes, has been rewarded with broken promises”.
He added: “The company has been making excuse after excuse to shut the scheme. First it said that there was going to be a probable deficit, which now turns out to be a healthy surplus of £125m.
“Then it claimed it was a legal requirement to change the scheme which turns out not to be the case. Now it says that the PPF will be a potential liability and that’s why it has to close it. We believe that these are excuses and the firm is exaggerating the pension protection position in an attempt to justify its actions.”
He said the union was now taking legal advice to see whether it could take action against the company.
But an Akzo Nobel spokesman insisted the union’s accusations were “totally and utterly untrue”.
He said workers at Corsardi were told that they would have to leave the Akzo Nobel CPS Pensions Scheme within six months of the company being sold on.
But he added: “Obviously, any members of the scheme can, if they wish, choose to stay on as deferred members.”
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