The Tata Steel plant in Stocksbridge, Sheffield.
A workers’ strike is looming at Tata Steel in Sheffield following the company’s decision to close its pension scheme.
Following the dispute, the National Executive Council of the Community trade union unanimously authorised a ballot of the union’s members. The majority of the workforce is representative by the trade union. The decision whether to strike or not now lies in the hands of the workers by voting.
“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,” reads part of the statement released by the union.
Tata Steel employs about 2,000 workers in Stocksbridge and Rotherham.
The statement reads further: “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.”
“Community is determined to defend the pensions of its members in Tata Steel,” said Alan Coombs, President of the union, and chair of the Multi-Union committee at Tata Steel Port Talbot.
He added: “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.”
And the union’s General Secretary, Roy Rickhuss said that the matter was not necessary about the company but a concern for the welfare of the community members.
“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,” he said, adding, “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.”