Fri, 09 Dec 2016
AWE workers in Aldermaston and Burghfield have staged a second 24-hour strike and are threatening more in the new year, in an ongoing row over proposed pension changes.
The dispute centres around the threat to close the defined benefit pension scheme and substitute it with what unions are describing as an inferior alternative.
The strike came after Unite – the UK’s largest union – had its counter proposals rejected by AWE management.
It followed the first one-day strike on Monday, November 14.
Unions say the proposed changes would leave workers thousands of pounds out of pocket.
AWE staff also lobbied the Houses of Parliament and made appointments to see their local MP to raise their case.
The dispute has been given an extra edge by accusations that the Ministry of Defence broke pension promises made a quarter-of-a-century ago, when the workforce was transferred to the private sector.
The Unite regional secretary for the South East, Jennie Formby, said: “Our members won’t be starved into submission by a hardline management – and the prospect of further strikes is very much on the cards when we enter 2017.”
Unite regional officer Bob Middleton added: “Unite is sending out a clear message to employers across the land: Don’t mess with workers’ pensions’ – otherwise you will have a fight on your hands.
“Our members’ solidarity is strong and further industrial action is on the cards in the run-up to Christmas and the New Year, unless the management starts to negotiate in a constructive fashion.”
Unite members have voted by 92 per cent for strike action and by 97 per cent for industrial action short of a strike.
Currently, AWE scheme members pay 10 per cent of their salary into the scheme and the employer pays 26 per cent.
Under new proposals, employees will be able to pay from three per cent to nine per cent; with AWE paying from seven per cent (if an employee pays three per cent) to 13 per cent (if an employee pays nine per cent or more).
AWE plc, which employs about 4,000 people, is a consortium of two American-owned companies, Lockheed Martin and Jacobs Engineering, and UK-listed Serco.