British Unilever workers defend pensions

Demonstrating Unilever workers

From daily News Line in Britain:

Wednesday, 11 January 2012


Unilever workers from all over the country yesterday descended on the London headquarters, outraged at the company’s ending of their final salary pension scheme.

They began the day touring central London in a battle bus, then had a march round to the front of the Unilever building where they organised a lively mass lobby to demand their final salary pensions are restored.

On the march, the Unilever workers chanted, referring to Polman the head of the company ‘Unilever there is no need, it is just Polman’s corporate greed!’ and ‘Where’s my pension gone? Far, far away!’ and ‘Polman’s got my pension pot!’

Paul Comerford from the Purfleet site in Essex told News Line: ‘On the battle bus, we were waving flags, chanting and singing and definitely getting the attention of everyone we passed.

‘People were waving out of windows and giving us thumbs up, the support was amazing.’

‘Our pensions are spiralling downwards all the time, I  have 15 or 20 years left. If they keep changing the pension plans what are we going to be left with when we retire?’

Mike Rooke, the joint senior Unilever shop steward in the Unite union said: ‘We are here because we are in dispute with the unbelievable plans to close our final salary pensions.

‘Some workers have come down from Purfleet in Essex, some from Gloucester, some from Liverpool, from Burton-upon-Trent which is north of Birmingham.

‘Unilever with their changes are telling us that 80 per cent of the workforce will lose 20 per cent of their pensions.

‘However, some of my members stand to loose as much as 40 per cent of their pension.’

See also here.

A rolling 10-day programme of strike action by workers at corporate giant Unilever will hit production of several top brands at sites across Britain, unions revealed today: here. And here.

Welsh Business Minister Edwina Hart condemned multinational Unilever’s planned jobs cull as a “devastating blow” for the workforce and their families today.

5 thoughts on “British Unilever workers defend pensions

  1. UK Unilever workers to stage more strikes over pensions

    Thousands of workers employed by consumer goods conglomerate Unilever Plc are to stage a series of strikes, from next week, in an escalation of a dispute over plans to axe their final salary pension scheme.

    “Last month, union members staged a one-day stoppage, the first strike in Britain in the group’s 81-year history, and a rare walkout over pensions at a UK blue-chip company,” Reuters reported.

    Unilever makes many household brands, such as Persil washing powder, PG Tips tea bags and Flora margarine. It employs around 7,000 workers at 12 plants in Britain. It is looking to move all 5,000 members promised final salary pensions to a career average scheme by July 2012. This could see the retirement income of thousands of workers cut by between 20 and 40 percent.

    The company abandoned final salary pensions for new joiners in 2008 and 2,000 workers are already on the less generous scheme. The Unilever UK pension scheme has a deficit of about £680 million ($1.05 billion).


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