Morrisons warehouse workers strike over pension contribution change

Morrisons to increase pay for 96,000 store employees

About 1,000 Unite union members working at two Morrisons warehouses have undertaken strike action for three days over a cut in company contributions to their pensions.

The workers at sites in West Yorkshire and Cheshire claim to be losing £500 each through the company’s plan to reduce how much it puts into their pension pot while workers pay more.

Unite also claims Morrisons is ditching a long service pay award and increasing the speed at which goods are expected to be processed in warehouses.

Sharon Graham, general secretary at Unite, at the time the changes were announced last November said the supermarket was “planning to fleece workers”.

She said: “Unite will not stand for such behaviour from any employer, let alone one like Morrisons which is raking in massive profits in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis. Its flagrant profiteering and then cutting our members’ take-home pay is a disgrace.”

Workers had been paying in 3% of their pay into pensions while Morrisons put in 5% until March 2024, but Morrisons has moved to a policy of employees and employer paying 4% this financial year.

Morrisons said the loss in pension contributions per worker would be more than offset by the offered pay rise.

Currently, workers earning under £10,000 a year are not automatically enrolled in a pension scheme and companies do not have to pay contributions on earnings below £6,240.

But at the end of last year, the Pensions (Extension of Automatic-Enrolment) Act 2023 received royal assent. This reduced the age at which employers will be under a duty to auto-enrol employees into their workplace pension scheme from 22 to 18. Additionally, employers will no longer be allowed to disregard the first £6,240 of an employee’s earnings when calculating how much to contribute into their scheme.

Ministers have not set a time for the new rules to be implemented. The results of a consultation reporting in the autumn will be considered by whichever party wins the election on 4 July.

Morrisons said the two warehouses affected by industrial action were continuing to operate but at reduced capacity.

A spokesperson for the retailer said: “We have put in place detailed contingency plans across the business and are confident that our customers, stores, suppliers and partners will not be significantly affected,” adding that the company was “open to further dialogue with the union”.

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They said: “We have made a number of new proposals to Unite, including a 9% pay award, a new service award scheme, and improvements to the planned future pension scheme changes.

“Disappointingly, Unite has chosen to reject these new proposals without putting them to its members, and instead are continuing with strike action at two out of our seven logistics sites, initially over three days.”