Sheffield steel firm workers could be set to strike

Tata Steel, Stocksbridge.
Tata Steel, Stocksbridge.
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Workers at a Sheffield steel firm could be set to strike over a dispute around the closure of its pension scheme.

Tata Steel, which employs about 2,000 workers in Stocksbridge and Rotherham, could be hit by strikes after the National Executive Council of the Community trade union, which represents most of the firm’s workforce, unanimously authorised a ballot of the union’s members.

The move comes after Tata Steel announced the closure of its final salary pension scheme.

Workers will now be asked to vote on whether to strike.

A statement released by the union said: “On March 24 an extraordinary meeting of the NEC was convened to discuss the company’s decision to close the British Steel Pension Scheme as announced 13 March.

“The NEC discussed in detail the circumstances that led the trade unions to the brink of a national dispute, and representatives expressed their profound anger and disappointment at the company’s unnecessary and unjustified actions.

“After due consideration the following resolution was proposed and subsequently endorsed: The NEC hereby authorises the general secretary to ballot the membership within Tata Steel UK for industrial action in protection of the British Steel Pension Scheme, and to call for any industrial action deemed necessary in furtherance of the dispute.”

Alan Coombs, President of the union, and chair of the Multi-Union committee at Tata Steel Port Talbot, said: “Community is determined to defend the pensions of its members in Tata Steel.

“This is not a decision that was taken lightly because as a union we believe in working with employers not against them. But the British Steel Pension Scheme has provided decent pensions for decades to thousands of steelworkers and their families and we will not allow it to be closed in this way by Tata. We will stand up to Tata and stand up for our pensions.”

Roy Rickhuss, General Secretary, said: “Our National Executive Council recognises that this is not just about Tata Steel, it’s about an attack on the terms and conditions of Community members.

“That’s why NEC members from outside steel spoke so passionately in support of the course of action that we have been forced to take because of Tata’s unjustified decision to close the British Steel Pension Scheme.

“In the coming days and weeks we will be calling on our members to stand up to Tata and stand up for their pension and they will have the full support of their union behind them.”