First ever union rally to take place outside Sunderland's Nissan plant over changes to pension scheme

Union members will march outside Sunderland’s Nissan plant during the first rally in the site’s history.

Tuesday, 7th July 2020, 4:34 pm
Updated Tuesday, 7th July 2020, 4:34 pm

The car manufacturing company confirmed last month that it has entered into consultations over closing the defined benefit pension scheme.

It is estimated that 1,800 workers would be affected if the plans to move them onto an alternative proposal plan is approved.

Now, Unite the Union is getting ready to march on Nissan in the first rally held outside the plant since it opened in 1984 on Saturday, July 11.

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A march and rally will take place outside the Sunderland plant for the first time in its history

The Japanese-owned car giant, which employs around 7,000 staff at its Wearside plant, says the level of investment needed to maintain the defined benefit scheme has ‘grown to unsustainable levels’.

But Unite the Union has warned the changes, which they say affects the most long-standing members of staff, has the ‘potential’ to lead to the first industrial action at Nissan in Sunderland.

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Steve Bush, national officer for Unite the Union, said: "There is a lot of unrest and annoyance. Of the 1,800 people that are affected, 80% have worked at this plant for more than 20 years.

"They are fundamentally the workers that are the bedrock in the most efficient plant in Europe. It's absolutely disgraceful what is going on.

"There's going to be a march and rally at the site for the first time in its history on Saturday.

"This has the potential, if the company isn't to move on significantly in the consultation, to lead to the first industrial action at Nissan in Sunderland.”

Unite the Union’s assistant general secretary Steve Turner is due to speak at the rally along with a number of others.

Members, who are asked to registered online and adhere to social distancing, will gather near the plant on Saturday and march towards towards the main gates.

A spokesman said: “We aim to provide competitive benefits to our highly valued staff, but these have to be balanced with the long term sustainability of our business.

“The level of company investment needed to maintain the defined benefit pension plan has grown to unsustainable levels.

“For this reason we are in discussions with affected employees and their representatives about the proposed closure of the plan.”

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