Tata Steel workers set for a strike ballot

Tata owned steel works in Port Talbot Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Tata wants to introduce a defined contribution pension scheme

Unions representing Tata Steel workers are set to ballot members over industrial action after Tata announced a plan to close their pension scheme.

Tata Steel announced plans to close the final salary pension scheme on Friday.

"We have been unable come to an agreement that would have enabled defined benefit provision to continue," said a Tata Steel spokesman.

Trade unions accuse Tata Steel of being "hell bent" on closing the pension scheme and refusing to compromise.

Tata's spokesman said that it will consult employees on the closure of the pension scheme - a move which will affect around 17,000 workers.

It proposes to replace it with a defined contribution scheme.

"We proposed changes to the defined benefit scheme which we believe would have had a balanced impact across our UK employees," Tata added.

It also said it believed the trade unions' proposals to change member benefits "would have unfairly disadvantaged younger scheme members, who would have had to bear most of the impact of the changes". Tata said "a more balanced solution was necessary if the defined benefit scheme was to remain open".

'Lost all faith'

But Roy Rickhuss, general secretary of the Community trade union, said Tata's decision to close the current pension scheme was "unnecessary and profoundly disappointing".

"We have made every effort to compromise with the company, even discussing the possibility of meeting the deficit through changes to member benefits," said Mr Rickhuss.

"Sadly, the company rejected this offer. We have lost all faith in the company and its leadership, which has brought us to the brink of a major national industrial dispute for the first time in over 30 years," he said.

The company produces steel in Port Talbot, Wales, Scunthorpe in the north east of England and Rotherham in Yorkshire.

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