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Tata Steel workers to strike in Scunthorpe and Rotherham

Workers at Tata Steel have voted by almost 9-1 to go on strike in a row over pensions, threatening the first national walkout, which will include sites in Scunthorpe and Rotherham, in the industry for more than 30 years.

Credit: Press Association

Members of the Community union backed strikes by 88% and other forms of action by 96% in a turnout of 76% - all well above new thresholds for union ballots being planned by the Government.

Unions are protesting against plans to close the British Steel Pension Scheme to future accrual, which they say could see workers retiring at 65 instead of 60.

The company has warned that its pension scheme is heading for a huge shortfall of £2 billion.

We stand on the brink of the first national strike in the steel industry for over 30 years. This is not where we wanted to be but Tata now has an opportunity to end this dispute by removing the threat of scheme closure and discussing alternative measures to resolve the challenges faced by the scheme, something the unions have been prepared to do since November last year. Throughout those discussions, the company said it needed to address a deficit of just under £1 billion and the unions were prepared to look at measures that would have wiped that out, without closing the scheme. Community's members at Tata Steel have now spoken loud and clear. Steelworkers are determined to stand up to Tata. They have not been fooled by the company's propaganda. They have voted overwhelmingly for their pensions, their families and their futures. The company should heed this message and return to meaningful discussions with the unions in line with Tata's values of responsibility and integrity. Through Community's network of Tata Steel union representatives, we will begin to consult our members on the kind of action that they want to take. Any action we do take will aim to cause maximum disruption to the company with minimum pain for our members. We hope this can be avoided if Tata return to the negotiating table with new proposals.

– Roy Rickhuss, general secretary of Community

Members of Community's executive will meet on Monday to discuss the next move.

Before the ballot result was announced, chief executive of Tata Steel's European operations Karl Koehler sent an open letter to workers urging them not to support industrial action.

Our actions have been aimed at developing an affordable and sustainable pension scheme through changes that are fair and balanced for all those who work for us, from the younger generation to our longer-serving team members who have given most of their lives to the UK steel industry. The past few years have seen the UK, and most of the world, go through the worst financial crisis for generations. One of the consequences has been record low interest rates. And like savings in the bank, our pension scheme's assets have not been growing fast enough to keep up with increases in the expected cost of providing benefits. The result has been a huge shortfall of up to £2 billion, which is clearly not sustainable. The changes we've proposed to our UK pension scheme will help protect the benefits colleagues have already earned. They will also, crucially, ensure a good pension for our people in the future which is both affordable and sustainable. Of course we looked at keeping the final salary scheme running, a scheme which by today's standards is a very generous package. Indeed, we initially proposed reasonable measures to the unions that would have addressed the huge shortfall while also being fair and balanced to all colleagues across the age range. Sadly, this was rejected by the trade unions. The unions continue to insist on keeping unaffordable early retirement enhancements in the pension scheme which would favour our older colleagues - but would be to the detriment of younger members of the team. I believe the unions' proposals would be unfair and unbalanced. Because of this, we have been unable to agree on a way forward. But we have always said we are open to talks and further negotiations with the unions and that continues to be the case.

– Tata Steel's European operations Karl Koehler

More than 6,000 Community members were balloted.

Woman from Rotherham goes missing

Police in Rotherham are asking for your help locating 45-year-old Cheryl Phillips from the Wath-upon-Dearne area of the town.

Cheryl Phillips Credit: South Yorkshire Police

Cheryl was last seen on Wednesday at around 10am, in Co-operative Street, Wath-upon-Dearne.

Cheryl is described as having red/brown shoulder length hair and is of slim build.

Family and friends are growing increasingly concerned for Cheryl's welfare.

If you see Cheryl, please contact South Yorkshire Police.

Cheryl Phillips Credit: South Yorkshire Police

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Twelfth arrest in sexual exploitation investigation

A man has been arrested in connection with an ongoing investigation into child sexual exploitation in Rotherham.

The man, 32, was arrested today in the Rotherham area on suspicion of child sexual exploitation offences involving two girls under 16 between 1999 and 2003.

He is currently in police custody being questioned by detectives.

He is the twelfth man to be arrested as part of Operation Clover, an investigation into child sexual exploitation in Rotherham between 1990 and 2003.

South Yorkshire Police say anyone with any concerns about abuse should contact them.

Women and children seriously injured in crash near Rotherham

Two children have been seriously injured and a 39-year-old woman has sustained life-threatening injuries following a collision in Swinton, near Rotherham earlier today.

At around 2.50pm, it is reported that a black Vauxhall Antara and four pedestrians were involved in a collision in Bridge Street, Swinton, close to the junction with Dun Street.

A 39-year-old woman was taken to hospital with life-threatening injuries where she remains in a critical condition.

Two children, a five-year-old boy and a four-year-old girl, were taken to hospital with serious injuries.

A seven-year-old boy also sustained minor injuries.

A 42-year-old woman has been arrested in connection with the incident and bailed pending further enquiries.

Driver dies in Rotherham collision

An 88-year-old man has died after being involved in a crash in Rotherham.

It happened around 1.15pm on Sunday May 17, when a silver Rover and a silver Mercedes were involved in a head-on collision on the A631 Tickhill Road at Maltby.

The driver of the Rover was taken to hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Police say he may have been taken ill at the wheel.

The driver of the Mercedes, a 74-year-old-man, was taken to hospital and is being treated for serious injuries. Two passengers, a 70-year-old woman and a 16-year-old girl suffered slight injuries.

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Man charged with attempted murder after Rotherham stabbing

A 59-year-old man has been charged with attempted murder following a stabbing at a pub in Rotherham.

David Rimmington, 59, of Roughwood Road, Kimberworth Park, was arrested following the incident at the Angel Pub in Bridgegate at around 8.30pm on Saturday 9 May.

The victim, a 59-year-old man, has been released from hospital where he was treated for non-life threatening injuries.

Mr Rimmington will appear at Rotherham Magistrates’ Court today, Monday 11 May.

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