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From The Socialist newspaper, 24 February 2016
Pensions strike by water workers in Warrington
Andy Ford, Warrington Socialist Party
United Utilities, a company with revenues of £1,700 million and profits of £664.3 million in the last year, is attacking its workers' pensions. The company paid a dividend of 37p per share to its backers in the City but now claims it cannot afford decent pensions for the staff who generate those revenues.
Members of the GMB general union gathered to picket and protest outside the company's Warrington headquarters. The pickets were watched by a handful of company 'marshals' from just inside the perimeter.
GMB steward Steve explained that the company has served notice that it wishes to close the 'defined benefit' pension scheme, and replace it with an inferior 'defined contribution' system.
"The difference is that under defined benefits you know what you're going to get, and the company plugs any gaps, but under defined contribution you know what you pay but not what you'll get, and the risk is put on the employee.
"The company is not responsible for any shortfalls. Up till last year the company was reporting that the scheme was doing OK, now they say they can't cover the future costs".
United Utilities says that it values its employees as 'stakeholders'. But figures obtained by GMB show that in the last year it distributed £259 million in dividends to shareholders, but is now fighting over £15 million for the pension scheme.
Obviously where the 'stakeholders' are concerned some are more equal than others!
The three year revaluation of the scheme is due this year. GMB is demanding that the full accounts are opened for inspection.
But United Utilities is only willing to share some of the figures and even then only for 'validation' by the union, not proper consultation.
So workers have been left with little choice. 90% voted for industrial action with 82% backing full strike action.
The GMB represents workers in process control, water collection and treatment and repair and maintenance - the heart of the business.
It looks like the company and their shareholders are not going to have it all their own way.
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In The Socialist 24 February 2016:
What we think
EU referendum: Vote OUT the Tories
Socialist Party news and analysis
Junior doctors: back new strikes
Trident: thousands to march - scrap all nukes!
Butterfields tenants demand action against evictions at Labour estate agent awards
Children take over County Hall in protest at cuts
'Benefit tourism' twaddle
Cameron, Cameron, meal snatcher
Them & Us
Tower Hamlets to take anti-cuts fight into the council chamber
Leeds sets up people's budget campaign
Leeds Labour 'anti-austerity' meeting: jam tomorrow
Socialist Party feature
Unison at a crossroads
International socialist news and analysis
Hong Kong: new year riot
International news in brief
Workplace news and analysis
Victory for striking EDF energy workers
Pensions strike by water workers in Warrington
Fresh round of strikes against fresh round of cuts
Stress, abuse and long hours for London bus drivers
Workers unite to fight pay attack in Leicester
Workplace news in brief
Khrushchev: the Stalinist who denounced Stalin
Socialist readers' comments and reviews
One-woman tragedy's fiery call for revolution
Socialist Party reports and campaigns
Huddersfield: save our A&E!
Momentum must "take the fight to the right"!
Gateshead: reprieve for respite centre
Save Derbyshire children's centres
Wakefield: no fracking, no cuts
Cumbria cuts - the grim reaper
Campaign to save Pent Valley continues
Socialist Party Wales and North West conferences
The Socialist 24 February 2016 |
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