Tata pensions dispute is over

Employees at Dalzell Steelworks were on the verge of strike action in the dispute over pensions.
Employees at Dalzell Steelworks were on the verge of strike action in the dispute over pensions.

The pensions dispute at Tata Steel that brought the company to the brink of the biggest industrial dispute in 35 years has ended.

Members of all four unions at the company, including those working at Dalzell Steelworks in Motherwell, have voted to accept changes to the British Steel Pension Scheme which will keep the scheme open.

Harish Patel, national officer for Unite, said: “There is a clear mandate from all union members for the Steel Committee to seek further meetings with the company to finalise the arrangements to keep the British Steel Pension Scheme open.

“This result also provides the opportunity to negotiate improvements to the scheme in the future should the scheme recover.

Dave Hulse, national officer at GMB, added: “After months of negotiations it was a strong union campaign that forced Tata Steel back to the table and got the company to change its decision to close the scheme.

“It was the unity of union members that meant we could do this.”

However, the unions warned that while they are pleased with this result there is more matters that require to be discussed with Tats Steel.

Nick Blundell, regional secretary for UCATT said: “Without the campaign by the unions the British Steel Pension Scheme would be closing. Now we need to move on and address the other concerns of our members at Tata Steel.”

Roy Rickhuss, general secretary of Community and chairman of the National Trade Union Steel Co-ordinating Committee, said: “The challenges will not end here.

“There is more to do both to resolve the concerns of our members at Tata Steel and to meet the wider challenges faced by the UK steel industry.

“It was apparent during this dispute that the company was not listening to the concerns of its workforce, which led to a serious breakdown in trust and confidence.

“All unions have already begun a dialogue with the company to address these issues.”

Tata Steel noted the union vote.

A spokesman said: “We note the result of the UK pension ballot, and the agreed proposal represents a fair and balanced solution in which UK employees will continue to be provided with high-quality pensions.

“The new arrangements, including the modifications to scheme benefits, will address a significant proportion of the pension scheme’s projected deficit, and other actions will address the balance.”