Unilever staff vote to accept pension changes

Unilever staff have voted to accept changes to their final salary pension scheme, which will be closed and replaced with a career average revalued earnings (Care) scheme.

Following talks with the union Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) in February, Unilever maintained its position that the existing final salary pension scheme was unsustainable. Members of the union voted to accept the changes, but members of the GMB and the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers (Usdaw) did not.

Faced with a significant number of employees accepting Unilever’s offer, Usdaw representatives agreed to ballot its members again, and this time they voted to accept the changes.

When the final salary scheme closes on 1 July 2012, all employees will be offered an alternative pension scheme, including: a career average plan for staff with salaries between £5,000 and £48,000, plus a defined contribution (DC) plan available to employees with a salary above £48,000; and an option to pay more to obtain better benefits through voluntary matched contributions.

David Johnson, national officer at Usdaw, said: “While we have achieved some important improvements to the replacement Care scheme, our members remain angry and bitterly disappointed by Unilever’s decision to close the final salary pension scheme.

“However, once a significant number of their colleagues had voted to accept Unilever’s improved offer, Usdaw members were left with little option but to reluctantly follow suit or face fighting the company on their own.

“Our members can be proud of the way they have conducted themselves throughout this dispute and for the determination, resolve and unity they have shown in resisting the company’s attack on their future living standards.”

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