Today, hundreds of Unilever workers converged on the company HQ in London to protest against the 'downgrading' of their pension schemes. The protest is the first action in a fight back against Unilever, which is set to escalate to a series strikes accross the UK in the coming months. Unilver, who want to win the race to the bottom, believe the pension reforms will ensure their scheme is sustainable and competetive. Where have I heard that one before?
Hundreds of workers from, Purfleet, Port Sunlight, Warrington, Leeds, Crumlin, Gloucester, Manchester, Burton-on-Trent, and Chester, converged on Unilever’s London offices, some in an open top bus. The protest is thefirst action following a one day strike in December. It signals the start of a series of strikes planned across UK factories that will commence onthe 17th January.
Despite being one of the world’s largest and most profitable companies, they trot out the same discredited nonsense as other companies such as Shell Oil, in claiming that slashing the scheme will secure its future sustainability and competitiveness with similar schemes. They claim that they are making their schemes more ‘in line’ with others in the private sector.
Roughly translated they mean that other companies offer a poorer penions than we do, so rather than providing a better scheme that we can afford, we will scrap ours, and bring it down to the level of the lowest common denominator, a ‘race to the bottom’.
Unions claim that changes to the scheme will mean that workers will be 40% worse off in their retirement.
Unilever said that it was concerned about the “disproportionate” action the trade unions were taking, adding, “This was a tough but necessary choice which reflects the realities of rising life expectancy and increased market volatility. We believe the provision of final salary pensions is a broken model which is no longer appropriate”.
As I mentioned in a similar post, it is time to link up private and public sector pension campaigns.