GE launches employee consultation on future of DB scheme

Infrastructure, finance and media company General Electric (GE) has announced a consultation with employees over the fate of its final salary pension scheme, drawing the ire of Unite the union.

In an emailed statement, a GE spokesperson said the company is looking into its options around its final salary scheme, and is in the process of a 90-day consultation with employees.

The company is not proposing to close its existing scheme, though it is looking into potentially closing the scheme to new entrants.

“GE is committed to providing its employees with a competitive pension and benefits package. I can confirm that we have launched a formal process of consultation on proposals relating to our UK pension and benefit arrangements, giving our employees the opportunity to provide feedback and make choices from a range of options,” the spokesperson said.

However, Unite national officer for aerospace and shipbuilding Ian Waddell said with the company’s strong recent financial performance, employees will struggle to see why the company is making “such punitive changes to its pension scheme”.

“There can be no other reason than the transfer of risk from the company to the employees, who will now have to gamble on their pension being enough to see them through old age.

“These changes will be a bolt from the blue for our members and we will be demanding an explanation from GE for its strategy so that we can negotiate a better deal for our members on pensions. Flexible benefits will do little to sugar this particularly bitter pill,” Waddell said.

GE’s spokesperson said the company is not prepared to go into detail around its proposals at this stage, as there is an ongoing consultation process and final decisions have not been made.

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