Unilever employees to strike over changes to final salary pension scheme

Employees at Unilever in the UK have voted in favour of strike action over the closure of the firm’s final salary scheme.

The ballot was organised by unions Unite, GMB and Usdaw. Nearly 85% of Unite members voted for strike action, which is likely to take place across Unilever’s 12 sites during December.

The food and households giant, which produces brands including Dove, Hellman’s mayonnaise, Marmite and PG Tips, is pressing ahead with plans to close its final salary pension scheme to existing members by the beginning of 2012. The scheme was closed to new entrants in 2008.

Jennie Formby, national officer at Unite, said: “Our members have spoken and, while the decision to strike was not an easy one, the message is clear: they will not roll over and accept this attack on their pension scheme. Unilever must now do the decent thing for its loyal workforce and get back around the negotiating table.”

A statement from Unilever said: “We are very disappointed that Unilever employees, who are members of Unite, Usdaw and GMB, have voted in favour of strike action.

“We fully understand the strength of feeling prompted by our decision to close our final salary plan. However, it was based on a belief that making tough choices, including changing our existing pension arrangements, is the right thing to do for our business, and our 7,000 employees, to help ensure Unilever’s long-term competitiveness in the UK.

“Our pensions arrangements in the UK have to reflect today’s realities if they are going to be sustainable into the
future and this means making tough choices, including an acceptance that final salary pensions are no longer a
viable option for the organisation.”

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