Steelworkers’ first strike in 30 years

STEELWORKERS in Rotherham are set to take part in the industry’s first strike in 30 years in a row over pension fund changes.

The Community union, the biggest in Tata, announced on Friday that a ballot across the UK had seen workers voting by almost 9-1 to walk out.

The dispute is over proposed changes to pensions which could see employees at Tata, which employs 2,050 people in Rotherham, retiring at 65 instead of 60.

GMB and Ucatt members also voted to strike, while Unite members are still voting until Friday.

The four unions represent 17,000 steelworkers.

Tata released an open letter to employees on Friday which said the company’s UK operations were losing money and the pension scheme had a shortfall of up to £2 billion.

Profits within the UK steel industry are being squeezed by cheap imports and weak demand, the firm said, adding that its costs were also higher than elsewhere for both energy and labour.

Community has now informed Tata of the result and the union said it hoped the strength of feeling would lead to the Tata changing its proposals on pensions.

Tata Steel said in the letter said it was always open to talks and further negotiations with the unions and that continues to be the case.

Roy Rickhuss, general secretary of Community, said: “We stand on the brink of the first national strike in the steel industry for over 30 years.

“This is not where we wanted to be but Tata now has an opportunity to end this dispute by removing the threat of scheme closure and discussing alternative measures.”

 

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