Millennium Post

Tatas fail to clinch deal with UK unions, to face industrial action ballot

Tata Steel on Thursday said it has failed to strike a deal with UK trade unions who have threatened to hold a ballot on “industrial action” over pension related issue.

“The negotiations with the UK unions have concluded without support from the trade unions on proposed modifications to the scheme,” the company said in a filing to the NSE.

Earlier this week, unions of Tata Steel UK, a subsidiary of the Indian steel major had called for an industrial action ballot against the company’s decision.

The ballot will be starting from May 6 and the unions had said that it is expected to conclude by May 29. “Steel unions GMB, Community, Unite, and Ucatt have announced that Wednesday, May 6, is the date they intend to open an industrial action ballot over Tata Steel’s proposal to close the British Steel pension scheme (BSPS),” a joint statement by the unions had said.

An industrial action ballot or vote is sought by unions to know the majority view of members about participating in the industrial action - strike, lock-out and action short of a strike. Negotiations between the trade unions and the company had started in November last year.

The company has proposed to replace the existing British Steel pension scheme with a ‘money purchase’ pension scheme, in which employees, the government and the employer will make definite contributions.

However, the unions did not accept it on the ground that “it would bring more burden on the employees”. Suspension of the scheme is likely to hit 17,500 workers and over 90,000 pensioners. There have been reports that the suspension will help Tata to save 1 billion pounds. Tata Steel has invested 1.2 billion pound in its UK operations since acquiring Corus in 2007.
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