A BALLOT for industrial action among Tata Steel workers over pensions has been authorised by its unions.
The National Executive Council of the Community trade union, which represents the majority of the Tata Steel workforce, authorised the general secretary to ballot the membership within Tata Steel UK for industrial action.
Senior managers at the Indian multi-national, which has sites in Port Talbot and Llanelli, announced their intention to close the British Steel Pension Scheme to future accrual earlier this month via a mass meeting of trade union representatives.
At the meeting on Tuesday, members of the NEC discussed in detail the circumstances that led the trade unions to the brink of a national dispute, and representatives expressed their profound anger and disappointment at the company's unnecessary and unjustified actions.
"After due consideration the following resolution was proposed and subsequently endorsed," said a spokesman.
"The NEC hereby authorises the general secretary to ballot the membership within Tata Steel UK for industrial action in protection of the British Steel Pension Scheme, and to call for any industrial action deemed necessary in furtherance of the dispute."
Alan Coombs, president of the union, and chairman of the multi- union committee at Tata Steel Port Talbot, said: "Community is determined to defend the pensions of its members in Tata Steel.
"This is not a decision that was taken lightly because as a union we believe in working with employers not against them.
"But the British Steel Pension Scheme has provided decent pensions for decades to thousands of steelworkers and their families and we will not allow it to be closed in this way by Tata.
"We will stand up to Tata and stand up for our pensions."
Tata Steel did not wish to make any further comment at this stage.
Speaking after the announcement earlier this month, a spokesman said a number of meetings had been held, and added: "We have been unable to come to an agreement that would have enabled defined benefit provision to continue.
"We remain committed to providing employees with competitive future pension provision."
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