Unions blast over pension changes

Peter Devlin

Peter Devlin

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PROPOSED changes to insurance workers’ pensions have been blasted by staff and unions.

Pensions giant Aegon, which employs hundreds of Lytham workers at its Ballam Road base, has announced changes to its employee pension scheme.

The proposals include removing final salary pension schemes and moving all employees to a defined contribution scheme.

The firm will begin a 60-day consultation period with its employees, and with its unions, Aegis and Unite, on November 14.

Aegon UK chief executive, Adrian Grace (pictured) said: “The financial risks in running a defined benefit scheme are becoming ever greater and there is a growing trend for employers to move from defined benefit to defined contribution pension arrangements.

“It’s no longer commercially sustainable to keep our scheme open to future accrual and maintain the link to final salary.

“Running two different pension schemes also means we’re not rewarding employees on an equal basis, and we want to address this.”

But David Fleming, Unite union national officer, said: “Unite is furious Aegon is to close its final salary pension scheme.

“The closure of the pension scheme is a clear example of another finance company ruthlessly following the trend of others who are denying their workforce good provision in retirement.

“Why is this profitable organisation taking away the good pension provision which the workforce have earned?

“Unite is demanding Aegon reconsider this position. There is no reason to make this change.

“We will vigorously oppose this attempt to attack our members’ benefits. This assault on member’s comes at a time when public sector workers are also fighting to defend their pensions.”

One disgruntled worker –- who wanted to remain anonymous – told The Gazette: “It’s like we’re under attack again. We’re already facing job losses after the company said more have to go.

“It’s not nice at the moment. Now our pensions are under attack. If we go we’ve lost out – if stay we still lose out.

“They can’t make arbitrary changes without telling us – we’ve been putting into these schemes for years.”