Unite members demonstrate today in Birmingham over destruction of pensions


Angry workers determined to show UK’s leading businesses that Unilever is not as ‘squeaky clean’ as they suggest are this evening demonstrating in Birmingham.

The workers, all members of Unite, are descending on Britain’s Most Admired Company Awards 2011 where Amanda Sourry – Unilever’s UK and Ireland Chairman – is guest speaker.

The event is being held to highlight that Unilever – named Britain’s Most Admired Company in 2010 – is betraying the very staff who have worked so hard to build this UK global giant.

Unite national officer Jennie Formby said: “UK top businesses should not be dazzled by Amanda Sourry and her Unilever success story.

“This is the story of the betrayal of a loyal and hard working workforce. It is the workers who played a key role in making Unilever one of the biggest and most successful consumer goods companies in the world.

“Unilever management should be ashamed of themselves. What they are doing is morally wrong. They are breaking their promises to our members by trying to push through plans that will destroy workers’ pensions and their families’ future.”

Workers will be waving placards stating ‘Unilever – not as clean as you think’ and ‘Hands off our Pensions’ and handing out leaflets asking UK top businesses to give their backing to the campaign to save their pensions.

Unilever, the food and household giant, whose brands include PG Tips, Marmite, Dove, Comfort and Surf, is proposing to scrap its final salary pension scheme for its 7,000 plus long-serving UK workforce. The company plans to transfer current members to the inferior Career Average Revalued Earnings (CARE) scheme with effect from January 1st, 2012.

Unite, the lead union representing the workforce together with Usdaw and GMB are in the processing of preparing for a national ballot for industrial action of Unilever members across the UK in the next step of the campaign to stop this unacceptable attack on their members’ pensions.

Jennie Formby said: “Last weekend saw the celebrations for Founders’ Day in memory of William Hesketh Lever, later Lord Leverhulme, who used his maiden speech to the House of Commons to urge Henry Campbell-Bannerman’s government to introduce a national old age pension, such as the one he provided for his workers.  What Amanda Sourry and her management team are trying to force through now – with no financial imperative to do so – goes against everything the founding fathers of Unilever campaigned for.

“Little wonder then that Unilever workers on all sites and in all parts of the business are furious. The joint unions have been left with no alternative but to press ahead with a national ballot for industrial action.”

Unite, together with Usdaw and GMB, are urging Unilever to seriously reconsider its pension plans which workers have contributed to over a life time of work and which they had been promised would be made safe after accepting significant changes less than three years ago.

* The demonstration takes place outside IET Birmingham, Austin Court, 80 Cambridge Street, Birmingham B1 2NP at 5.30pm



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