Aerospace strike for pensions
WORKERS, FEB 2008 ISSUE
AROUND 1,600 workers at the Goodrich aerospace sites in Hall Green and Marston Green Birmingham, in Hemel Hempstead, in Liverpool, and at one of Wolverhampton's biggest factories, have voted in favour of strike action after proposals to change the pension scheme took effect on 1 January, closing the final salary scheme to new workers.
Staff at Goodrich Engine Control Systems, which was Lucas Aerospace until bought by the US Goodrich Corporation in 2002, fear that changes to their pension scheme – which will see all members paying an extra 3.5 per cent each month – will leave them worse off when they retire.
Unite regional officer Andy Taylor said: "This is outrageous behaviour from an aerospace company which has a well-funded pension scheme and a £7 billion order book. Our members will not accept the decision to close the final salary pension scheme to new entrants and are calling for watertight assurances concerning the scheme for existing members."
The Unite union said its members backed industrial action by 2 to 1 in protest at the changes. The union warned that industrial action would have a "serious knock-on effect" on the aerospace industry because Goodrich is a leading supplier of many aircraft systems.
Goodrich spokesman Martin Butler insists the changes are due to volatile interest rates. The company supplies fuel system control equipment for all the major aero engine manufacturers, including Rolls-Royce, and aircraft flight control equipment from its European sites.
A fitter at the Wolverhampton site, said: "There are 3,000 employees in the pension scheme and 1,600 of them are in the union, which is more than half the workforce at six sites. If we strike it would bring production to its knees."
The newly defined contributions scheme will mean a set level of pension would not be guaranteed. In recent years companies like Rolls-Royce have actually re-opened their final salary schemes in an effort to retain skilled workers.