Unite raises concerns over Morrisons pension changes

Morrisons has been accused of trying to “fleece” tens of thousands of workers, after it announced plans to lower its employer pension contributions in response to the government plans to expand the scope of auto enrolment.

Morrisons recently told scheme members about plans to make some changes to pension arrangements, with a formal consultation process on the changes to run until early January 2024.

Whilst the total pension contribution would remain unchanged under the proposals, the division between employers and employees would be reversed.

Under the first stage of the proposals, the current 5 per cent employer contribution would be cut to 4 per cent from March 2024, while at the same time, employee contributions would increase from 3 per cent to 4 per cent.

March 2025 would bring the next stage, with employee contributions increased further to 5 per cent, while employer contributions would fall from 4 per cent to 3 per cent.

However, Unite the Union raised concerns around the proposals, confirming that it is currently preparing a challenge against Morrisons supermarket chain, and organising briefings with members in the coming weeks to seek a mandate for action.

Unite general secretary, Sharon Graham said: “Pensions villain Morrisons is planning to fleece workers by hiking their pension contributions while slashing its own contributions to the scheme. This is blatant profiteering and a disgraceful new low for this well-known supermarket.

“The pension schemes are in surplus and the company is in profit, there is no justification for this attack. Unite will support its members in whatever action they choose to take and strike action is a distinct possibility.”

Unite national officer, Adrian Jones, added: “Morrisons is wrongly claiming it needs to make cuts due to the government changing the rules on pension contributions. This attack on workers’ deferred pay is all about increasing profits. Unite will stand by its members who choose to fight these attacks on pay and benefits.”

The union estimated that the changes will save the company up to £10m a year, although Morrisons argued that the overall amount of money the company is putting into colleague pensions will actually be going up when the broader auto enrolment changes come in.

A spokesperson for Morrisons stated: “We have recently communicated to colleagues a proposal to make some changes to pension arrangements. Morrisons Colleagues currently contribute 3 per cent of their salary above £6,240 to their pension, and the company contributes 5 per cent.

"The proposal is that in March 2024 this will move to 4 per cent contribution from both parties and in March 2025 to 5 per cent for colleagues and 3 per cent from the company.

"There will be a formal consultation process lasting until early January 2024 but it’s important to note that the amount of money Morrisons is putting into colleague pensions will actually be going up when the auto enrolment changes come in.”

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