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United Utilities workers go on strike

United Utilities workers are staging strike action Credit: PA

Workers at United Utilities in the North West have gone on strike in a long-running dispute over pensions. The 27-hour walk-out began at 5 a.m. on Friday.

The GMB union will be mounting picket lines at 18 water and waste treatment plants during the stoppage.

The union says a majority of members voted in a consultative ballot to reject the company’s plan for all staff to move from a defined benefit final salary pension to a defined contribution pension scheme from April 2016.

"We have agreed a process should there be a major incident such as the recent Cumbrian floods or other emergencies impacting on the life and limb of customers during the course of industrial action."

– Eddie Parker, GMB regional officer

United Utilities says it has been consulting with four unions over a proposal to close the defined benefit pension scheme affecting some employees. The company says that proposal has been taken off the table while an assessment is made of the cost of keeping the scheme going, and it will continue to try to resolve differences by talking.

"We are disappointed that GMB has decided to ask its members to talk out for a day, but we have plans in place to make sure that our services to customers are not affected by what is action by only a very small number of employees."

– United Utilities