Steelworkers strike over pensions

STEELWORKERS in Rotherham will walk out a week on Monday in their dispute over pensions at Tata Steel.

Rotherham’s Aldwarke and Brinsworth plants will be affected by the strike on June 22 over plans to close the pension scheme.

An overtime ban and a work to rule will begin around the middle of next week.

Tata said it has been trying to reach a sustainable solution to a projected shortfall of £2 billion in the £14 million scheme, which has 135,000 members.

But Roy Rickhuss, chairman of the National Trade Union Steel Co-ordinating Committee, and General Secretary of the Community trade union, said:

“Tata have given us no option but take industrial action.

“The company has not shown any willingness to return to meaningful negotiations to find an end to this dispute.

“An overtime ban and work-to-rule will cause massive disruption to Tata’s operations and severely limit production.

“The company could avoid this by returning to the table. But in the meantime all the unions will also be making preparations for a national day of strike action.”

Paul Reuter, national officer at Unite said: “We are still open to talks if Tata are prepared for meaningful discussions. We have offered Tata the savings it says it needs.

“But the company wants to close the scheme altogether. This is not acceptable to workers.”

The GMB’s national officer, Dave Hulse, called for Tata to get “back round the table” and appealed to them to “heed the message that their workforce is delivering”, while UCATT regional secretary Nick Blundell echoed the call, adding: “Industrial action is a last resort for any union but Tata has given us no choice.”

A Tata Steel spokesman said: “We have been trying to develop an affordable and sustainable pension scheme for employees so we are very disappointed by today's announcement on strike and industrial action..

“We have over the last few months listened carefully to our employees during an extensive consultation process involving thousands of employees.

In response to this feedback, we will soon be announcing new measures which will lessen the impact of the proposed pension changes, particularly on our longest-serving employees nearing retirement age.

“We hope that these important changes to our proposals will be welcomed by employees and that the trade unions reconsider industrial action.”

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