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at chemicals firm over pensions
July 18, 2003
The firm says the cost of pensions has "exploded"
than 600 workers at a French-owned chemical firm are on strike at two of
its UK plants in a row over pensions.
workers at Rhodia's operations in Widnes, Cheshire, and Oldbury in the
West Midlands, are protesting over plans to close the firm's pension
scheme to new entrants.
unions involved - Amicus and the GMB - say the action is about defending
the right to have a living wage in retirement.
Rhodia says it cannot afford to continue the system for new members.
is one of the first walk-outs over the issue, and follows a successful
strike last year by Caparo steel workers.
are angry that the decision to end the current pension arrangements for
new members has followed years of under-funding by the company.
Simpson, general secretary of Amicus, said: "The decision to strike
has not been taken lightly by our members.
three-to-one backing for strike action demonstrates the strength of
commitment by workers to defend their own and future colleagues right to a
living wage in retirement."
boss Kevin Curran added: "Rhodia has refused to have a proper debate
on our members' pensions and has left us with no option but to strike.
hope that the united voice of our members will be heard by Rhodia and the
pension issue can finally be addressed."
increasing number of firms have closed their final salary pension schemes
- which link benefits to a worker's final salary - blaming rising costs
and poor stock market returns.
20% of final salary schemes are still open to new joiners.
dates for strike action at the two sites have been scheduled for August
Scott, Rhodia operations director, said the company was committed to
decent pension scheme for all its staff.
why Rhodia has massively increased payments into the pension fund - to
ensure we can protect the pension commitments made to current members of
are paying one of the UK's highest contribution rates- 31% of salary - to
honour the promises made to today's employees.
disappointed the unions at Oldbury and Widnes are taking this action.
everyone knows the cost of pensions has exploded, and if we carry on
accepting open-ended pension commitments for new staff then we put the
future of the company at risk and we won't be paying any wages, let alone
any pensions, to new recruits."