Capita workers set to strike after pensions talks collapse

Staff at financial services processor Capita are to take strike action after arbitration talks to resolve a pensions dispute collapsed at the last minute.

Trade union Unite, which was representing the workers at the Acas talks, said staff would now be taking part in nine days of continuous industrial action, beginning on October 28 and running until November 5.

The strike action will affect two sites in Birmingham, plus offices in Manchester, Bristol, Reading, Stirling and Belfast.

Unite members affected are mainly employed by Capita Life & Pensions Regulated Services, although some employed in Capita IT Services and Capita Employee Benefits are also affected.

The following Capita contracts will be affected:
• Prudential
• Royal London CIS
• Phoenix / Royal London (Birmingham)
• Friends Life
• Specialist Services (all sites)
• IT Programmes /projects (all sites)

The union had intervened after Capita attempted to close its current defined pension scheme and transfer staff to a defined contribution scheme.

Talks were taken to the arbitration service Acas but ended in deadlock.

Unite staff at Capita had voted last month to take strike action should the situation not be resolved. The ballot, which attracted a 72% turnout, showed 95% of members were supportive of industrial action.

Staff were informed in June of the company’s plan to close the current defined benefit scheme. The union claimed staff would suffer a massive cut to their retirement income as a result of the proposals.

Dominic Hook, Unite national officer, said: “It is deeply disappointing that Capita staff are being forced into industrial action because of their employer’s disgraceful plans to slash the deferred pay that staff will get in retirement.

“Unite suspended its planned strikes in good faith in order to reach a settlement with Capita. Unfortunately, the company has failed to make a reasonable offer to address the concerns of their workforce.

“Capita’s pension proposals will have far reaching consequences for the retirement of many Unite members. Some staff will lose a shocking 70% of their retirement income.”

It has urged the company to reconsider its proposal, claiming the high vote in favour of strike action illustrated how strongly members felt about the issue.