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Government urged to protect steelworkers' pensions

Steelworkers' pensions must be protected in any plan to save Tata Steel's UK operation, Labour has said.

ITV News understands ministers are exploring ways of reducing the firm's UK pension burden in a bid to attract buyers.

Reacting to the reports, Owen Smith, Labour's shadow work and pensions secretary, said:

Dealing with the Tata pension scheme must be a central part of any Government package to save our steel industry, so it will be totally inappropriate for Ministers to rush out this vital announcement, in a written statement without any scrutiny on the final day before a recess.

Steel workers’ pensions must be protected, they’ve earned them with hard graft over many years.

So if Ministers are considering measures which might see those pensions reduced, MPs from all parties, especially those representing steel communities, will want a chance to question the plans, along with the trade unions who are playing such a vital and impressive role standing up for Tata workers.

If these reports are accurate, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions should come to the House to explain precisely what is being proposed, including how current and future steel pensioners will be affected and what precedents might be set by any changes to hard won pension protection legislation.

– Owen Smith MP

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Nuclear workers vote to strike over French labour reform

Nuclear workers have voted to down tools over labour reforms. Credit: Reuters

Workers at 19 French nuclear plants have voted to go on strike on Thursday as part of protests over labour reform that has caused fuel shortages across the country.

The strikes are unlikely to provoke blackouts due to legal limits on industrial action in the nuclear industry and France's ability to import power from neighbouring countries, industry experts told Reuters.

Approximately 43% of petrol stations are partially or completely without fuel after CGT blockades at oil depots around the country.

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French government claim fuel reserves sufficient

Picketers at a blockade at a fuel depot near Donges, France. Credit: Reuters

French ministers said that strategic fuel reserves are large enough to last more than three months.

On Wednesday, President Francois Hollande's government mobilised strategic oil stocks for the first time in six years.

More than 4,300 petrol stations across France, approximately 42% of the total, are partially or completely without fuel due to the blockades which began on Monday.

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