Pension changes prompt ballot for strike action at Ardagh

By Joseph James Whitworth

- Last updated on GMT

Unite has said the workers at Ardagh Glass face 'pensioner poverty' if changes go ahead
Unite has said the workers at Ardagh Glass face 'pensioner poverty' if changes go ahead
More than 400 workers at a UK Ardagh Glass site are being balloted for strike action over changes to a pension scheme.

The workers, members of Unite, the union, will vote from Tuesday 21 July (tomorrow) on whether they wish to strike and/or take industrial action short of a strike.

It is over plans to close the defined benefits scheme (DBS) and replace it with a defined contributions (DC) plan from 1 October. The ballot closes on Tuesday 18 August.

An Ardagh spokesperson told FoodProductionDaily: "We are aware that Unite are balloting employees in Barnsley regarding changes to the pension provision, however since ballot papers have only just been distributed to members, it would be premature to speculate on any industrial action at this time."

‘Loss of thousands of pounds’

Unite said around 440 workers at the site in Barnsley face ‘pensioner poverty’ with the loss of thousands of pounds to retirement income.

Ardagh Glass employs about 1,400 workers at sites in Barnsley, Doncaster and Knottingley in Yorkshire and at Irvine in Ayrshire – the three other sites are covered by a different scheme and are not being balloted for industrial action.

Unite deputy regional secretary Tas Sangha said the DC scheme would be ‘vastly inferior’ to the current DBS.

The glass manufacturer wants to change the DBS which sees the company contribute 25.9% and the individual worker three, six or nine per cent, depending on circumstances.

There are 492 members in the scheme, said the union.

Pension plan changes

Unite said the changes had been rejected in two consultative ballots by the employees but management wants to auto-enrol employees from 1 October.

Then workers will pay in four per cent of their salaries which will be matched by the company. 

Tas Sangha said if the proposals are allowed to go ahead it will mean the company will save £3m a year.

“The company has already admitted that the contribution rate may be as high as 60% to the DC scheme if you wanted to get the same benefits as those now offered by the DBS.

“There is no way that our members can bridge this yawning financial chasm to give them a decent retirement income – and hence the strike ballot. We urge the management to reverse its decision and maintain the DBS.”

Sangha said the scheme’s deficit at its last validation in April 2014 was £11.9m, which was ‘perfectly sustainable’.

Ardagh operates 89 production facilities across 21 countries, generating annual revenue of €4.7bn.

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