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Cath Everett

Sift Media

Freelance journalist and former editor of HRZone

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Breakthrough reached in Unilever pension dispute


Two out of three unions have broken the deadlock in a long-running pension dispute at Unilever by accepting what they described as a “significantly improved” offer.

Members of the Unite and Usdaw unions have accepted improvements made to a career average pension scheme that had been put on the table to replace a more lucrative final salary scheme. The GMB is still in the process of balloting its members, however.
Although the final salary scheme currently has about 5,000 active members, the consumer packaged goods manufacturer plans to close it because of what it described as rising costs caused both by workers living longer and volatile investment returns.
The proposed closure led to the first national strikes by Unilever employees in the firm’s history. The company, which produces household brands such as Dove soap, Pot Noodle and Wall’s ice cream, had previously prided itself on its good staff relations.
Unite’s national officer, Jennie Formby, told the BBC that members had been given a guarantee that there would be no further changes to their pension scheme before 2018 and, after that date, any changes would only be made with full union consultation.
But David Johnson, national officer at Usdaw, said: “While we have achieved some important improvements to the replacement scheme, our members remain angry and bitterly disappointed by Unilever’s decision to close the final-salary pension scheme.”
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Cath Everett

Freelance journalist and former editor of HRZone

Read more from Cath Everett

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