UNITE, Community and GMB trade unions yesterday called on Tata steel workers at Port Talbot to vote ‘YES’ when the proposed deal with Tata is put to ballot on Monday.
Many workers oppose the deal which will slash their pensions and not guarantee their jobs. Up until yesterday, the union leaders said that they were unable to recommend the deal. The deal is that Tata will seek to keep the blast furnaces open for just five years, after which they may shut the plant down.
Details of the deal show that there are no assurances. All that the company says is that it will ‘seek to avoid any compulsory redundancies’. The three unions admitted the offer was ‘not without issues’ but claimed that it was the ‘only credible and viable way to secure the future’.
A joint-statement from Unite, GMB and Community unions said: ‘We do not make this recommendation lightly. Nobody is saying that the proposal on the table is without issues. We fully understand the concerns of members, particularly around the British Steel Pension Scheme (BSPS).’
The £15bn British Steel Pension Fund has 130,000 members and a black hole of £650m. Tata have said that they want nothing to do with the pensions liabilities. In fact, that is one of the prerequisites of the deal. This means that the British Steel Pension Scheme will fall into the PPF or Pension Protection Fund and get severely cut.
PPF was set up to pay compensation to workers when the company they work for becomes insolvent and cannot pay their pension. The repayments are capped at 90%. As a result, workers lose at least 10% of their original pension. Steel workers must reject this treacherous deal when they vote on it on Monday.
Dave Wiltshire, secretary of the All Trade Union Alliance said: ‘Workers must vote “NO” and then occupy the plant and demand that the TUC call a general strike to bring down the Tories and to bring in a workers government to secure the renationalisation of the steel industry under workers management.’