Union warns of 'potential' strike at Nissan over pension row ahead of Saturday's rally

Unite the Union has warned Nissan workers could strike for the first time in the plant’ history if there is no ‘substantial movements’ by the company over the proposed closure of the defined benefits pension scheme.

Thursday, 9th July 2020, 11:49 am
Updated Thursday, 9th July 2020, 11:50 am

Unite said there was growing anger at Nissan’s pension plans, which will affect around 1,800 staff, as well as its refusal to offer an industry standard lump sum usually provided when such schemes are closed.

The union said that without ‘substantial movement’ by the company on the scheme's closure, there could be industrial action at Nissan in Sunderland for the first time.

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’.

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The union has warned that without ‘substantial movement’ by the company on the scheme's closure, there could be industrial action at Nissan in Sunderland for the first time.

The defined pension scheme has not been available to new employees since 2003 and it is Nissan’s long-serving members of staff who will be affected.

Nissan workers will attend a socially distanced rally in Sunderland on Saturday, July 11, in response to the manufacturing firm’s plans to close its defined benefits pension scheme.

Those attending the rally, the first held since the plant opened in 1984, have to provide contact details to union organisers and that participants are expected to adhere to strict social distancing measures at all times.

Masks and hand sanitiser will also be available during the rally and Unite representatives will be monitoring health and safety procedures.

Protesters will gather near the plant on Saturday at 11.30am and march towards Nissan’s main gate at 12pm, where the rally will be addressed by a number of speakers, including Unite assistant general secretary Steve Turner.

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Unite national officer Steve Bush said: “The opportunistic closure of the defined benefits scheme will reduce the financial security of nearly 2,000 of the company’s longest serving and loyal staff by tens of thousands of pounds.

“These staff are facing an unexpected and gaping hole in their financial security during retirement, but rather than attempt to find a compromise Nissan has met their concerns with disdain and disregard.

“Normally staff who accept the closure of defined pension schemes are offered a lump sum as compensation for the huge losses incurred, but Nissan is refusing to even countenance this.

“Our members are incredibly angry at the company’s disgraceful behaviour. Without substantial movement during consultation, this dispute could result in the first ever industrial action being taken at Nissan in Sunderland.”

Nissan confirmed last month that it has entered into consultations over closing the defined benefit pension scheme.

A spokesman for Nissan said previously: “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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