Unilever strike over pensions

Submitted by Matthew on 14 December, 2011 - 1:56

Unilever workers struck for a day on Friday 9 December as part of their battle to defend their pensions.

Members of the Unite, GMB and USDAW unions took action, with the strike being reported solid in most Unilever facilities.

Unite said that no engineer had gone to work at Unilever’s Burton site, and USDAW reported the strike 100% solid at the Port Sunlight research and development facility.

According to workers, management had been bullying and intimidating people into going to work, including by holding meetings threatening people with losing their jobs, particularly construction workers with contracts agreed through the Manpower employment agency. Unions have filed a grievance over intimidation.

USDAW national officer Davy Johnson said that company had not approached unions for further negotiations, and that more action was planned for the new year.

Workers are fighting management attempts to transfer their pensions to a career-average scheme rather than existing final salary arrangement, a measure Unilever bosses claim they need to take to cut costs despite making over €5 billion profits last year. The pension reforms would only save €200 million.

John Storey from Unite said that these figures showed that Unilever's motivation was not cost-cutting, but smashing collective agreements and breaking union strength.