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Tuesday, 26 May 2015

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Eastman workers in pensions strike

Staff at a Workington factory will walk out this weekend in a dispute over pensions.

Shop floor staff at Eastman Chemical in Siddick will down tools between 6.45pm tomorrow and 6.45am on Monday.

A second strike, lasting 24 hours, will begin on August 26.

The move comes after the company called time on an existing pension arrangement, under which it paid all contributions. It told employees they must pay towards their retirement funds.

The firm has also closed the scheme to new members and introduced a new deal for them on lower terms.

More than 150 people work at the Siddick factory. It is not known how many will walk out.

But it is understood that 77 per cent of the factory’s workforce who belong to the GMB union voted for strike action.

A company spokesman said a contingency plan was in place to keep as many production lines as possible running during the strike.

She said staff in other areas of the business were trained in working on the factory floor and would be called on to help.

The spokesman said the firm first announced plans to change the pension scheme in 2012 and later withdrew its first proposal to address staff concerns.

The latest plans were tabled early this year.

After a formal consultation period, the GMB entered a formal dispute.

The changes were brought in last month and talks are going on.

The spokesman said: “Eastman is concerned about the issue of rising pension costs all over our global business.

“Workington isn’t the only place where we are making changes.

“For many years we have been able to avoid making changes to the UK pension plan but we have been forced to make changes because of rising costs that have doubled in size.

“We understand the concerns and we do respect the right our employees have to take action like this but unfortunately there’s nothing we can do in this matter.

“We are committed to providing long-term employment to Workington and the West Cumbria region.”

Tom Allison, regional organiser for the GMB, said: “Eastman is a profitable company and we believe it could absorb these pension costs without the need to make these changes.

“Our members are going to take strike action to try to change the company’s position.”

Have your say

In response to Steven Wilson's comments about getting our facts right, he needs to review the inaccuracies in his letter and avoid commenting from the outside when unaware of what's going on inside. Firstly when snooping around the car park he should appreciate only approx. 20 of the cars belong to workers involved in the dispute, all the others belong to staff and contractors. My own vehicle is three years old and I still owe £6000 for the loan on it so I am hardly flush. The expensive cars he talks about must belong to the staff and they must be the ones he says earns a "reputed" £40,000 as it is not us. The balerman rate is approx. 65% of his reputed figure, this is for 12 hour shifts including all weekends, warehouse rate is approx. 55% of his reputed rate. He may now appreciate a 5% pay cut is a large amount to lose for workers with young families, also we have accepted the pension must change in this day and age, but we are fighting for compensation. The average worker will be £70,000 out of pocket with the contributions he has to make and the reduction of his final pension.
It was interesting he compared us to Butlins, once a flagship of success now a butt of jokes.
In conclusion Mr Wilson I am happy you have a good paid job, obviously on days not working nights like us, It also seems your life is enhanced by looking around our car park and listening to our "banter", to avoid this try evening night classes you will learn the correct spelling of paid not "payed" and lose not "loose"
It would have been far better if local people like Mr Wilson had took time out to support local workers with a dispute like this than write negative inflammatory comments.

Posted by eastman employee on 2 September 2014 at 10:21

@ eastman employee , for your information I have a life and a good job, although I may not earn the reputed 40k you guys do, I am happy, I was muting a point that , you have a good job in the area, you have expensive cars, that need payed for, I do not want anyone to loose out but the fact of the matter is that if after all this action if a hatchet was to fall where do you now think that May be, as for 1920s school conditions I very much doubt it as all the loudspeaker "banter" I hear in seaton, most nights with the workers barking like dogs or making snoring sounds through the night it sounds more like butlins than a place of work,but I am sure 1920s conditions the management run by would not allow for such stupid behaviour so I suggest you should get your facts straight before suggesting I get a life.

Posted by Steve Wilson on 28 August 2014 at 15:54

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