Steel unions – Community, Unite, GMB and UCATT – have suspended Monday’s strike action at Dalzell Steelworks and will prepare to ballot their members over a new pension offer from Tata Steel, which keeps the British Steel Pension Scheme open.
The decision was taken at a meeting of 100 senior trade union delegates from across the company in London today.
The new pension offer had been reached earlier this week following talks between Tata Steel and the unions facilitated by the conciliation service ACAS.
Details of the changes were presented to the union delegates today. Those present decided that the new offer could be put to a ballot of all union members and therefore strike action is suspended. The unions are recommending that the deal is accepted.
Roy Rickhuss, chairman of the National Trade Union Steel Co-ordinating Committee and general secretary of Community, said: “Our members standing up for their pensions has made Tata Steel change its mind.
“Through meaningful discussions and negotiation with the company we have been able to keep the scheme open and improve on their final offer prior to their decision to close the scheme.
“This is a massive turnaround and means there is the opportunity for the British Steel Pension Scheme to provide dignity and security in retirement for many more steelworkers in the future.
“As we have always acknowledged there are some significant challenges for the scheme but this new offer addresses some of those issues while enabling our members to continue to accrue final salary pension benefits.
“Our members will make the final decision but the unions are recommending a vote in favour because we believe we have secured the best available deal from the company.”
Harish Patel, national officer for Unite, added: “Union action brought the company back to the table with an improved offer.
“The BSPS is so important to Tata Steel employees and we have managed to keep the scheme open and secure a deal around early retirement.
“This is the best deal we could get and now our members get to decide. We will be urging them to vote for the offer on the table.”
GMB national officer Dave Hulse said: “We always told Tata Steel that closing the scheme was unacceptable but it took the unity and resolve of trade union members to make them listen.
“Now we’ve got a deal that means the scheme is open, the importance of early retirement is recognised and the challenges faced by the scheme are addressed. Of course now it’s up to our members but the unions are recommending acceptance.”
Officials from the British Steel Pension Scheme will be conducting roadshows around Tata Steel sites next week to explain the new pensions offer.
Unions will also to begin to put in place arrangements to ballot members on the proposals.