Around 5,500 British Gas engineers will be balloted in the run up to Christmas over the company’s intention to close its final salary pension scheme to new starters from next year, the GMB union announced today.
An unofficial consultative ballot has shown that the workforce is against the company’s plans and there is a wish to take action to protect their new colleagues’ pensions rights, the GMB said.
The union expects that the next valuation will show the scheme to be virtually fully funded and completely viable.
Two years ago, Centrica – the parent company of British Gas – and union members agreed to increase employee contributions by 1% to keep the scheme open.
Brian Strutton, GMB national secretary, said: “I doubt that GMB members will be up for selling off the pension rights of future British Gas engineers and are ready to take industrial action to secure the scheme for everyone for the future.
“However, we have offered the company to review the position at the next pension’s valuation and that seems to us to be reasonable.”
A Centrica spokesman said the proposed new scheme will allow members to claim part of a state pension, which means the total would “not fall that much short of the final salary scheme”.
The result of the ballot will be known on 25 November. If any industrial action results from the ballot, it will begin in December.