Socialist Worker

Agusta Westland strike

Issue No. 2067

Some 1,700 workers at helicopter firm Agusta Westland struck for 24 hours on Monday of this week over pensions.

The workers, members of the Unite union, are protesting at plans to change the way pensionable salary is calculated, and attempts to close the final salary scheme to new entrants.

The firm, which is the biggest employer in Yeovil, Somerset, currently claims a £94 million shortfall in its final salary scheme.

It has offered to put £30 million into the scheme but wants workers to make up the rest.

The company introduced changes in May. The previous scheme was based on employees’ final salaries.

This has been replaced with a direct contributions scheme. Payment will depend on how much money staff have paid into their pension.

The workers are worried that the plans will reduce the value of their pensions and exclude new members of staff from the current scheme.

Strike action last week was suspended for talks.

Colin Rose, the Unite regional officer, said, “The talks were constructive, some progress has been made and a further meeting has been planned.

“However, we have been in talks with the company on the pension situation since 2006 and Westland have proved unmovable on two fundamental issues.

“Our members are happy to make greater contributions to the scheme but we cannot accept a proposal to backdate the pensionable pay arrangements or to prevent new members from joining the scheme.

“Our members are determined to protect these two fundamental principles.”


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News
Tue 4 Sep 2007, 18:44 BST
Issue No. 2067
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