The Manufacturer was on hand in Westminster this morning (Wednesday) as Unilever workers from across the country staged a protest against pensions cuts outside of their company’s conference.
The workers are taking action outside of the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre near the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey where a Unilever conference is taking place.
The workers are furious after being told this week about plans to shut down their final salary pension scheme, having been previously told that their money would be safe in a new scheme.
Unilever now plans to implement a career average revalued earnings scheme – which they’ve given the somewhat ironic acronym ‘CARE’. This was set up for all new employees starting at the company in 2008 but, now, Unilever has announced that all current members on the original pension scheme will be transferred to the new one with effect from January 2012.
Our reporter talked to one group of workers from the Wall’s factory in Gloucester. One union member said he stood to lose over £70,000 if he lived for a decade after retiring. “We’re all a bit stuffed if this goes ahead to be honest,” he said. “I was looking forward to a decent retirement, this is just plain unfair.”
Ahead of the protests, Jenny Formby, national officer of the union Unite, said: “Workers are horrified by Unilever’s attack on their pension. These changes will make a massive difference to workers’ retirements.
“Our members are rightly angry over Unilever’s betrayal and they will not back down until these changes are stopped. Unilever must understand – the company is not going to get away with this without a fight.”
Unite has vowed to “fight tooth and nail” to get Unilever to reverse its decision.
Up to 150 of the 5,000 affected employees were in attendance at the rally today.