UK/US - Plans to close General Electric aviation's defined benefit scheme could halt production at the world's largest aeroplane engine producer after angry workers threatened strike action.
GE, the globe's number one manufacturer of plane engines, is currently in consultation over proposals to close its DB scheme to new members, increase employee contributions and introduce reforms to its employee benefits package.
However, Unite, the UK's largest trade union, say the deal is unfair to workers because the company is currently financially successful, with its five most senior executives set to pocket $24.5m (£15m) in pension payments between them.
"Our members are very angry about these changes which come at a time when GE is doing so well," Unite national officer for aerospace and shipbuilding Ian Waddell said.
"I strongly urge the company to stop and listen to its workforce or there is a real possibility of industrial action in the UK. This is not a poor company, forced to tighten its belt - it is a top ten global player choosing to make UK employees pay more and take more risk with their pensions. To press ahead would be a big mistake for GE."
The warning comes as GE runs a consultation with stakeholders over plans to change the pension scheme and reform employment terms to make employee benefit choice more flexible.
Union members across GE's aviation business in the UK are threatening to bring engine production and maintenance to a halt if the company does not accept Unite's demands, it said.
"GE is a hugely successful global company which last year made a profit of $14.2 billion," Waddell added.
"It seems somewhat ironic that just a few months later UK employees will see their pension scheme closed to new starters and they will have to pay an extra 4% in contributions just to stand still. Yet again it's one rule in the boardroom and another on the shopfloor."
GE said it would issue a statement shortly.
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