UK - Unions are threatening industrial action at insurance giant Axa (UK) unless it backs down over changes to its final salary scheme.
Axa wants to raise the retirement age to 65 and introduce employee contributions. And it has told staff they will be removed from the £2.2bn scheme unless they give their written consent to the changes.
Finance union Amicus accused the insurance firm of holding a “shotgun to employees’ heads” and Unifi is to ballot members on industrial action later this month.
Under the new scheme rules, Axa staff in the non-contributory section of the scheme will have to contribute 2.5% from October 1, which will rise to 5% after 12 months.
Members who currently contribute 2.5% will have to pay 5% from October 1.
But unions are most outraged by the plans to raise the retirement age to 65 because the change will not affect Axa’s directors or senior executives.
Unifi national secretary of insurance, Terry Keefe, accused Axa of double standards.
He said: “From September 30, Axa members – if they have not signed up by then – will be kicked out of the scheme.
“From our perspective, we are very unhappy with what’s going on. What’s made it even worse is that the directors have decided to keep their retirement age at 60.
Axa attacked the unions for being short-sighted. A spokesman said: “Axa is not immune to the situation that’s affected the majority of schemes. We’ve got falling markets, falling returns, people living longer and a changed tax regime.
“People will need to acknowledge and sign themselves into the new arrangements. They are not being kicked out – the benefits accrued up to October 1, will be preserved and they’ll be expected to make their own arrangements.”
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