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  1. ITV Report

Tata steelworkers vote to accept lesser pensions to safeguard jobs

  • Video report by ITV News West of England Correspondent Rupert Evelyn

Tata steelworkers have voted overwhelmingly to accept reforms towards a less generous pension to safeguard thousands of jobs and pave the way for a £1bn rescue deal.

Officials said members of three unions backed changes by around 3-1, giving a mandate to "move forward" following months of uncertainty in the company that owns the Port Talbot steel plant.

Workers had been urged by the unions to move from a final salary pension to a less generous scheme defined by contributions from the company and individual employees.

Leaders of the unions, Community, Unite and GMB, said the new terms were the best that could be achieved through negotiation.

72%
The vote in favour from Community union members on a turnout of 70%.
75%
The vote in favour from United union members on a turnout of 69%.
74%
The vote in favour from GMB union members on a turnout of 51%.

Moving to the defined contribution (DC) pension scheme will see maximum employer contributions of 10%, based on employee contributions of 6%.

The company had originally proposed contributions of 3% from the employer and 3% from the employee.

Unions warned the British Steel Pension Scheme (BSPS) has to close to future accrual at the end of March because it is heading for the Pension Protection Fund - a lifeboat for failing schemes - and the company into insolvency.

Only a quarter of steelworkers who submitted votes chose to reject Tata's proposals. Credit: PA

Tata inherited the scheme when it bought Corus, formerly state-owned British Steel, in 2007.

The Indian conglomerate announced last year it would sell its UK business but has since decided to seek a partner.

The company has been in lengthy talks with German firm ThyssenKrupp.

What is the reaction to the steelworker vote?

Steelworkers have been widely praised for endorsing the reformed pension plan. Credit: PA

The leader of the Community union said steelworkers had taken a "tough decision" but given the unions a "mandate ... to move forward in our discussions with Tata".

Steelworkers ... have shown they are determined to safeguard jobs and secure the long-term future of steelmaking.

We now expect Tata to make good on their promises and deliver the investment plan for the whole of their steel business.

– Roy Rickhuss, leader of the Community union

Tata Steel said it recognised the ballot had been a "difficult decision for employees" and praised their commitment to protecting the firm and jobs.

It shows employees are doing everything they can to develop a sustainable future for the business.

We will continue to work with the trade unions and other stakeholders to deliver Tata Steel UK's transformation plan and develop a sustainable future for the business.

– Tata Steel spokesperson

The Government hailed the vote as an "important step forward for the future of Port Talbot and Tata Steel in the UK".

It is now vital that all parties work together to deliver on the agreed proposals.

It is testament to the commitment of its workforce that they are willing to work so constructively with the owners to secure the future of the plant. The Government will play its role in supporting the steel industry to help deliver a sustainable future.

– Government spokesperson

First Minister of Wales, Carwyn Jones, also hailed a "significant step forward in securing a sustainable future for Tata's UK business" and urged the government to tackle high energy costs in the industry.

We continue to work closely with Tata to implement our significant financial support package in order to maintain steel jobs and production at all the Tata sites in Wales.

We also repeat our calls for the UK Government to urgently tackle the UK's high energy costs and continue to push for greater recognition of the steel industry in their new Industrial Strategy.

– Carwyn Jones, First Minister of Wales