Defined Benefit  

Asda workers fight pension cuts

Asda workers fight pension cuts

Retail company Asda is being urged to rethink proposed changes to its defined benefit (DB) scheme, after almost 2,000 workers signed a petition against the cuts. 

Talks between Usdaw – the trade union for Asda staff in Northern Ireland – and Asda started yesterday (15 February), as the retail company is currently running a 60-day consultation on several proposals for its pension scheme.

If applied, these changes would result in scheme members having less choice about saving for their retirement, the death in service provision reducing from four times pay to one times pay for everyone, as well as the company no longer matching staff pension contributions, the union said.

According to Michala Lafferty, Usdaw area organiser, “feelings are running high,” which is demonstrated by the union “collecting so many petition signatures in just over a week”.

She said: “Staff are still signing up to voice their opposition to the plans to worsen their pension and life assurance employee benefit package and call on the company to withdraw the proposals.”

Usdaw believes that “to worsen the current terms and conditions of the scheme is unfair, unreasonable and unnecessary,” Ms Lafferty said.

She added: “Pensions are not a bonus or gift – they are based on earnings and are effectively deferred wages. Usdaw believes it is an entitlement and we view this proposal as nothing more than a wage cut.”

At a meeting yesterday, the union called on Asda to “withdraw these changes and engage in meaningful talks to find a way forward”.

The proposed changes to the retail company were first announced last month.

At the time, a spokesperson at Asda said: “We are currently consulting with our colleagues on proposals to amend our pensions scheme.

"We are taking all comments and feedback on these proposals seriously before any final decisions are made."

maria.espadinha@ft.com