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Barclays’ staff in strike ballot over pension scheme

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by Kay Mitchell

Barclays’ staff are set to vote on whether to strike over the closure of its final-salary pension scheme.

The Unite union said the ballot will take place in August with potential industrial action taking place across the bank in September, which will “significantly impact” the bank’s operations.

The decision to close its final-salary pension scheme sparked outrage among staff and, according to Unite, 92% of staff said in a consultative vote that they wanted to be balloted on a strike.

A number of blue-chip companies have announced similar measures. Just yesterday, credit card giant, American Express, announce that with effect from 1 July, it has suspended pension contributions for its UK employees.

Last week, IBM, the computer giant, said it was considering closing its final-salary pension scheme to current members, affecting over 25% of IBM’s 20,000 UK workforce.

Oil giant BP and supermarket Morrisons also all announced plans to close their final salary schemes last month.

In April, the British subsidiary of the US insurance broker Aon said it planned to reduce its pension contributions to cut its costs – saying it needed to be “protected in challenging conditions”.

Meanwhile, the Government is introducing new laws in 2012 to make it illegal for companies to stop paying into their pension funds.

Returning to Barclays, Derek Simpson, joint general secretary of Unite, said: “It is unacceptable that Barclays are proposing this unilateral change to workers pensions. Unite members will not stand by as their employer rides roughshod over their retirement security.”

“The long-serving and dedicated workforce view this pension proposal as a betrayal by their employer.”

“The forthcoming ballot within Barclays will send a strong message to private sector employers across the economy. Unite will not accept businesses using the economic downturn as a means to erode the important terms and conditions of our members.”

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News posted: July 17, 2009

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