Siemens workers may strike over pensions

Siemens workers may go on strike after the UK’s largest trade union, Unite, voted in favour of industrial action at the engineering and IT services firm.

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Siemens workers may go on strike after the UK’s largest trade union, Unite, voted in favour of industrial action at the engineering and IT services firm.

The possible action could affect Siemens IT Services customers including NS&I, the Royal College of Surgeons and the UK Identity & Passport Service.

More than eight out of 10 Unite members voted in support of a strike and the union is now preparing to ballot its members for industrial action. The union said that sites potentially affected included Tyneside, Sheffield, Poole, Hove, Hayes, Preston, Southampton, Norwich, Avonmouth, Belfast and Scotland.

The threat of actin stems from plans at the engineering firm to close its employees final salary pension scheme. Around 6,000 Siemens staff could be affected by the company’s proposals to close existing final salary schemes, Unite said. Siemens planned to replace the salary schemes with a defined benefit money purchase scheme from January.

The union quoted Siemens’ own figures as showing that after the changes a 48-year-old employee would on average lose over £57,000 in pension income over the course of his or her retirement.

Peter Skyte at Unite said: “Siemens is a highly profitable company that can well afford to continue the final salary pension arrangements. The company has refused to consider any of the proposals we have put forward to address pension funding issues in over twelve months of talks.”

Siemens has made a number of changes to its final salary pension schemes over the past five years, including closing these to new entrants, increases in employee contributions and a reduction in pension accrual rates.

Two months ago, around 3,400 IT and business processing staff employed by the company secured 4% pay rises after threatening strike action over pay for work they were doing with the BBC.

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