The UK’s first national steel strike in 30 years could happen this month after Unite schedules Tata Steel action for June 22
The UK is facing its first national steel strike for 30 years, after union members voted for action against Tata Steel.
Unite the union announced today the strike – agreed last week – would go ahead on June 22.
It is part of an ongoing dispute over pensions, with the manufacturer telling workers they will have to retire at 65 to receive their pension, rather than 60.
Unite has claimed the proposals will effectively make its members “work until you drop”.
Along with steel unions Community, GMB and Ucatt more than 17,000 steel workers at the company are unionised.
Last Friday Tata released an open letter to employees explaining that the pension scheme had a shortfall of more than £2bn, adding that Tata's UK operations were losing money. It said the strike vote was “very disappointing”.
Unite national officer for steel Paul Reuter said: “Our members have made it clear that they are not prepared to have their contracts with their futures torn up in front of their eyes.
“We have offered Tata Steel UK the savings it says it needs. Instead the company is hell bent on making people who work in a physically demanding environment graft unnecessarily for a further five years to get their full pension.
“Tata Steel UK’s plans will financially penalise workers and rob them of their retirement they are working so hard for.
“We would urge Tata to reflect on the anger demonstrated by the ballot result and avoid the possibility of the first national industrial action in the industry for 30 years by entering into further meaningful talks.”
Roy Rickhuss, chair of the National Trade Union Steel Co-ordinating Committee, and general secretary of the Community trade union, added: “Tata have given us no option but take industrial action. The company has not shown any willingness to return to meaningful negotiations to find an end to this dispute. Our members are determined to stand up for their pensions. They delivered a massive vote in favour of industrial action, so that is what will happen.
"An overtime ban and work-to-rule will cause massive disruption to Tata’s operations and severely limit production. The company could avoid this by returning to the table. But in the meantime all the unions will also be making preparations for a national day of strike action on 22 June.”
Tata Steel's share price was seen down nearly five per cent ahead of US markets opening.