AWE staff to be balloted over “insulting” pension plan

AWE staff to be balloted over “insulting” pension plan

Prospect, the main trade union representing employees at the Atomic Weapons Establishment, has today written to the company about its intention to ballot members on industrial action over a pension dispute.

AWE, Aldermaston, Berkshire

The company, which makes the UK’s nuclear deterrent, has formally consulted on closing its defined benefit pension scheme to all staff and to replace it with a defined contribution alternative. A statutory consultation period ended on 25 July and the company has been in further discussions with the recognised trade unions since then.

Richard Tabbner, Prospect negotiator, said: “The company’s proposal is to replace its defined benefit pension scheme with a defined contribution alternative that is actually worse than the defined contribution scheme that staff can currently choose to join. This is frankly insulting.

Guarantees “reneged on”

“Members are particularly angry because the guarantees that were given at the time AWE was effectively privatised have been reneged on and the significant sacrifices they have made over recent years to keep the defined benefit scheme open to all staff have been ignored.

“The reality is that after many months of consultation and discussions the company has not improved its offer at all. This leaves Prospect with no choice but to ballot members on taking industrial action.

Secretary of state must intervene

“Prospect members care deeply about AWE’s vital role in the UK’s national security and do not want to take action that could impact on the UK’s continuous at sea deterrent but their hand has been forced by the circumstances of this dispute over pensions.”

Tabbner added: “Prospect has raised this issue with ministers on a number of occasions and the Ministry of Defence is a key player in this dispute."