Royal Mail has closed a consultation over the future of its final salary pension scheme, with unions preparing a counter proposal in the hope of preserving fixed payouts to workers.
The former state-owned firm revealed in January plans to shut its mammoth pension scheme that serves 90,000 postal workers. It wants to move members over to a defined contribution scheme with payouts linked to investment returns rather than a fixed member benefits.
Unless changes are made, Royal Mail said, the scheme's current surplus will run out in 2018. This could leave the group facing a £1bn a year bill to plug the gap.
The CWU, the union representing the majority of the Royal Mail workforce, committed in January to ballot members for strikes if the pension scheme was closed without agreement.
The consultation had a deadline of last Friday for individual responses and the CWU is now preparing to input into the process. It has already consulted with City actuaries over a solution that will see adjusted final salary schemes remaining in place.
A spokesperson for Royal Mail said: "We are actively considering all the feedback and continue to engage with our unions.
"No decisions will be made until we have considered members’ views and have had an opportunity to discuss these with our unions. We will write to members once a decision has been made.”
Writing to scheme members on Friday's deadline, Royal Mail said:
We know how important pension benefits are to our colleagues. We are sorry we had to write to Plan members in January 2017 to say we believe that the current plan will soon not be affordable.