Unite, Britain's biggest union, has warned that industrial action at GE, the world's biggest aircraft engine manufacturer, is now almost inevitable over pension changes the company has introduced.
Union leaders expressed bitter disappointment after eleventh hour talks failed to resolve the disagreement over the closure of GE's final salary scheme to new entrants and the almost doubling of member contributions.
GE, which is the world leader in manufacturing jet engines and turbines, announced changes to its UK pension scheme earlier this year. The changes included the closure of the final salary defined benefit scheme to new entrants, the introduction of a defined contribution money purchase scheme for new starters, and an increase in contributions for existing workers from 5% to 9% of salary.
Unite suggested counter proposals which the union believes could have kept the final salary scheme open to new starters and pegged contribution increases, but these were rejected by GE.
Unite national officer for aerospace, Ian Waddell, said:
"Doubling contributions for our members is unjustifiable for a global company that made $14.2billion profit last year and awarded its top five executives $10million in salary and $24.5million in pension payments. We will consult our members, but it is now almost inevitable that industrial action will follow."
"We are bitterly disappointed that GE has refused to move on changes to pensions which are deeply unpopular with their employees. Our members has consistently told the company that they would resist these changes, but GE have gone ahead anyway. "
"We have tried at every stage to negotiate an agreed way forward which would keep the final salary pension scheme open, but GE describe its decision as a 'line in the sand'. "
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