Members of GMB, Unite and Usdaw fight back against pensions grab after company refuses to talk

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Workers at consumer goods giant Unilever are to stage a series of twelve strikes in a huge escalation of a row over pensions.

Members of GMB, Unite and Usdaw last month walked out for a day after their employer announced plans to stop their final salary pension scheme. The company has since refused talks with the unions, prompting workers to call for further action likely to disrupt the production of household favourites such as Marmite, PG Tips, Persil, Pot Noodle, Flora, Dove and Hellmans Mayonnaise.

Unite national officer Jennie Formby: “It would seem that Unilever believed the workers would give up after one day’s strike but they are badly mistaken. The workforce is angry that the company has refused to meet us or to attend talks at the conciliation service Acas.

“Our members have dedicated their time and hard work to help Unilever build leading brands – it is their hard graft which helps ensure that every six seconds, someone, somewhere on this planet buys a Unilever product.

“But Unilever has changed from a caring company into one which treats its workers like dirt. We have shown the company that there is no need to destroy the reputation of a blue chip company because there is a solution on the table if only they will talk with the unions.”

The unions say the company’s plans to axe the final salary pension scheme will see the retirement income of thousands of staff slashed by up to 40 per cent.

GMB national officer Allan Black said: “Unilever need to get the message that profitable companies will not be allowed to walk away from their savings commitments to their loyal workforce.

“Strike action at Unilever demonstrates that pensions are not just a matter of concern for public sector workers. The concerns are shared by workers in private sector employers like Unilever too.  The action also shows that ordinary workers will not stand idly by to watch profitable employers like Unilever jumping on the pension’s robbery bandwagon.

“It should be a shared aim of the main political parties, employers, workers and their unions that adequate savings are put aside, while employees are in work, to provide a decent income for them when retired. Adequate savings rates were once a by word for responsible capitalism. Workers having to strike to protect adequate savings rates shows how anarchic contemporary capitalism has become. Employers and politician may favour this anarchy but workers and their families will never accept it.”

The first planned strike date is on January 17. Unilever plants will be affected at Purfleet, Port Sunlight, Warrington, Leeds, Crumlin, Gloucester, Manchester, Burton-on-Trent and Chester.


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