Strike moves into fifth day as Unilever’s board refuses to oppose changes to pensions scheme
Unions have warned Unilever not to regard Friday’s trustees’ report on the company pension as a `green light’ to force through changes which will see workers lose out by thousands of pounds each year.
Unilever workers – members of GMB, Unite and Usdaw – are currently on day five of eleven days of strike action across the UK, hitting production of leading brands such as Marmite, Pot Noodle, Flora and Hellman’s mayonnaise.
Commenting on the Trustee board’s agreement not to oppose Unilever’s changes which will end the final salary scheme for the company’s 7,000 UK workers, Unite national officer Jennie Formby said: “While the trustees’ statement will be disappointing for workers, it will not come as a surprise and it certainly won’t deter them. Strike action has been solid so far and our members have reiterated their determination to continue their campaign until Unilever does the decent thing and starts talking to Unite and the other Unilever unions about how to resolve this dispute.
“It must be noted though, that the trustee board has stated that it does not welcome the company’s decision to cease final salary accrual. So this statement cannot be seen as a strong endorsement of the company’s proposals.
“Further, there is no mention anywhere in the statement of the deficit, once again emphasising the company’s statement to the unions during the consultation that there is no pressing financial imperative to change the scheme. Indeed, the trustees’ reiteration that it is up to the company to determine what it ‘considers to be an appropriate and sustainable reward policy’ puts the ball firmly in management’s court.
“Unilever should therefore not take this as a green light to force through changes that will rob ordinary working people of thousands of pounds a year whilst they continue to rake in billions in profits every year.
“The ink is barely dry on the PM’s speech on `moral capitalism’. Unilever’s reaction to this dispute is a test of whether fat-cat corporates do pay any heed to a public sickened by corporate greed.”
Usdaw national officer David Johnson said: “We’re deeply disappointed by today’s decision and think the trustees have badly let down the scheme’s members. The trustee’s decision does nothing to help solve our escalating and damaging dispute with Unilever. The company needs to agree to further talks to avoid further industrial action.”
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