East Midland Trains will reduce its employees’ pension contributions, after an independent pension valuation.
FromJuly 2012, employees will be paying less into their final salary pension scheme.
However, members of the Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen (Aslef) voted to take strike action on 1, 3, 8, 10, 15 and 17 May. The union said that pension contributions should not be cut and that it was disingenuous for East Midlands Trains to suggest that members were getting something for nothing.
Mick Whelan, general secretary at East Midlands Trains, said: “To cut pension contributions in the current climate is highly irresponsible.
“This is simply storing up trouble for the next valuation and the future of the scheme. It is disingenuous to suggest our members are getting something for nothing. The current owners of the East Midlands Trains franchise may have no responsibility over the pension fund in a few years, whereas our members face the prospect of either cripplingly high contribution rates or reduced benefits due to a short-term cost-cutting decision made by East Midlands Trains that has left the scheme in deficit.”
David Horne, managing director at East Midlands Trains, said: “Pension contributions made by our employees will reduce from July this year. This is good news for our staff and will have no impact on their pension benefits.
“It follows recommendations from a recent pension valuation, which is an independent financial health check on the scheme. We have written to our employees to explain the forthcoming changes and the background.
“It makes Aslef’s stance difficult to understand and we are surprised that our train drivers are planning to take industrial action over this matter. We cannot see how Aslef’s demands, to continue with higher pension contributions when they are not required to, are in the best interests of their members.
“We know that elsewhere in the rail industry, and in other sectors, employees are being asked to contribute more towards their pension schemes, but this is not the case at East Midlands Trains.
“It really is good news for our people that the joint contributions are reducing for all of our employees and, for drivers, this will save them around £500 a year.
“What Aslef is suggesting would mean employees paying hundreds of pounds a year more into the scheme than is needed for the benefits they receive, particularly at a time everyone in the country is facing a squeeze in living standards. Industrial action would mean employees unnecessarily being even more out of pocket.”
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