UK - Around 1000 Co-operative employees have made a formal call for a strike ballot over anger at company plans to close its final salary pension schemes, according to Transport and General Workers' Union (T & G).
T & G representatives for the 1000 drivers and warehouse workers met yesterday and agreed to seek formal authority for the vote.
In return the Co-operative Group claimed the move was a “disappointing response from the T & G” at a time when it believed UK pension funds are facing “massive increases in pension costs and associated risks”.
The news comes after the union last week speculated the 1000 drivers and warehouse workers would consider action after the Co-op confirmed it was in the first stages of ending the Co-op Group Pension Fund, the CIS Employees’ Pension Scheme and the Co-operative Bank Pension Scheme, in favour of an amalgamated DB scheme based on career earnings to be started in April 2006.
In his report to union representatives, Ron Webb, T&G national secretary for transport, said he believed the argument for the scheme changes were based on “shaky foundations” as overall the schemes were not in deficit.
“This strong response to the Co-op should come as no surprise,” said Webb. “We warned the Co-op that their plans to axe a final salary pension scheme would be unpopular and this is the proof.”
In addition the T & G also fired a broadside at the UK government after it claimed it was treating local council workers like “second class citizens”.
Delegates of the union slammed government plans not to honour current pension arrangements for members of the Local Government Pensions Scheme after it removes the 85 year rule in October this year in line with EU legislation.
The “rule of 85” allows local government members to retire at 60 on a full pension if their age and years of service equal 85.
According to T & G this is being axed without either a replacement or full protection for all existing staff.
The government responded by saying they were preparing talks with the unions and employers to tackle the issue.
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