Two of the three unions representing the Unilever workers who launched a series of strikes in protest against plans to change the company’s pension scheme have approved a revised deal, just-food has learned.
Unilever has been embroiled in a long-running dispute with its unionised UK workforce after it moved to replace its final salary pension scheme with a career average revalued earnings (Care ) scheme, which would substantially reduce pension payments.
Following strike action, the company entered negotiations with the three unions representing its workers – UNITE , the GMB and Usdaw – and the unions took revised terms back to their members for ratification.
Speaking to just-food this morning (6 April), Unite national officer Jennie Formby revealed that the union’s members had approved the revised deal “three to four weeks ago”. Unite members – which number around 1,800 people across 12 sites – voted in favour of the deal at a ratio of two-to-one.
“We were disappointed that we were not able to maintain the final salary pension scheme,” Formby said. “However, we were successful in implementing changes to the CARE scheme, which is now best in class.”
Meanwhile the GMB and Usdaw members – who number around 250 and 450 respectively – rejected Unilever’s revised proposal.
Faced with a deadlock and a “significant number” of colleagues who accepted the deal, Usdaw and the GMB “reluctantly” balloted their members for a second time.
Usdaw today revealed that its members have now voted to accept changes to the company’s pension scheme.
David Johnson, Usdaw national officer said: “While we have achieved some important improvements to the replacement CARE scheme, our members remain angry and bitterly disappointed by Unilever’s decision to close the final salary pension scheme.”
Johnson added that Usdaw members felt they were “left with little option” but to follow Unite “or face fighting the company on their own”.
The GMB was due to complete the ballot process today. However, just-food understands that the union is still “in the process” of putting the deal to the vote.
A final answer from the GMB is still “some weeks away”, a union source told just-food.