IBM to face backlash from staff over plans to change pension scheme

IBM is to brace itself for a backlash from thousands of employees against the company’s plans to close its final salary pension schemes to future accrual and to alter the terms of its early retirement scheme, Unite union has warned.

Plans to change the pension scheme at the computing giant, announced in July, could typically make people in their mid-50s lose up to £200,000, the union has claimed. Between 700 and 1,000 workers will opt for early retirement prior to April 2010, when the new early retirement provisions apply, Unite has said.

Unite is organising a series of meetings throughout the UK with its members to decide what action to take.

Peter Skyte, Unite national officer for IT and communications, said: “IBM is a highly profitable company with substantial revenues and cash reserves. But is using the recession as a cloak to close its pension schemes to existing members and further line the pockets of its shareholders and senior executives at the expense of its loyal workforce.”

IBM has around 18,000 employees throughout the UK. The company has several defined benefit pension plans, which it is seeking to close, and has commenced a 60-day consultation period with a Pension Consultative Committee of employee representatives, including Unite members.

Firms listed in the FTSE 100 had a combined pension deficit of £96bn last month, the largest on record and nearly double the £41bn estimated a year ago, according to a report by consultancy Lane Clark & Peacock.

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