Verizon hit by 45,000 employee strike over pay and benefit cuts

US TELECOMS giant Verizon saw 45,000 of its workers strike yesterday in protest against changes to pension and health provisions in contracts.

The two US unions heading negotiations said the walkout came after a deadline to accept the new contracts expired at midnight on Saturday.

Verizon in June proposed changes such as freezing its final salary pension scheme for existing members and closing it to new members, and making both current and retired staff pay more for health insurance.

Its spokesman Marc Reed said it was “regrettable” that unions had walked away from negotiations but said Verizon had trained “tens of thousands” of management and retired staff to take the place of strikers during the industrial action.

The strikers largely work in Verizon’s landline division in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states.

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers said Verizon wanted to “take much of its unionised workforce back to 1960s levels of wages, benefits and working conditions”.