Amicus Public Relations

March 26, 2007 07:19 ET

W H Smith workers to protest over pension closure plans

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM--(CCNMatthews - March 26, 2007) - Workers of WH Smith and Amicus officials are to take to the streets this Saturday (31st March) in protest at W H Smith's plans to close its staffs pension scheme, costing the workers thousands of pounds in lost pension earnings.

Amicus will begin its campaign in Swindon, where W H Smith has its headquarters. Members are to gather outside a W H Smith shop in the town to protest against the way the company is treating its workers, shutting its final salary pension scheme and replacing it with a wholly inadequate money purchase scheme.

The company has rejected outright various alternative proposals made by Amicus to maintain the final salary scheme. Amicus says the company has conducted a sham consultation and failed to offer a decent comparable pension scheme for staff.

Amicus has accused the company of offering on the cheap the kind of pensions which threaten their workers with poverty in retirement. Under their plans WH Smith will cut future service contributions by as much as 70%. Many of WH Smith staff earn as little as GBP 12,000 p.a.

Amicus National Officer, Ann Field, said:

"W H Smith should be ashamed of itself. What it is doing is morally and socially wrong. They are driving down the pension entitlement of workers who earn very little and have served them well.

"Amicus will do everything in its power to preserve our members hard won rights. Companies must not be allowed to freely erode pension benefits and leave working people facing poverty pay in retirement.

"This is disgraceful treatment of long-serving loyal workers who have stood by the company during some very difficult times. Those employees are calling on the management to think again and come up with a plan for to save their pensions."

"Long-serving employees are saying that they can no longer trust the Board to act in the best interests of the Company and its employees, and they now seem only have a duty of care to themselves. The Board is driving present day workers and their families into a life-time of poverty.

We are calling on the management to think again and come up with a plan to save their workers pensions, and on government to introduce measures to stop companies destroying pension benefits"

Interview/photo opportunity

Time demonstrators will be at the shop from 10am
Venue: W H Smiths
Address: 10-12 Regent Street, Swindon SW1 1JQ

Local WHS workers, Ann Field national official and local official Garry Owen will be available for interview
Amicus represents over half of the approximately 2,500 employees affected.

Notes for Editors:

The Amicus proposal included:

- Retention of the Final Salary Section of the Pension Trust but all members of the Scheme to accrue at the rate of 1/95th, and no deduction of Lower Earnings Limit (LEL);

- All grades of staff to accrue pensions at the same rate of 95th instead of 60th for managers and graded staffs, and 95th for ungraded (lower paid) staffs;

- An alternative money purchase scheme to be available for all current staff who are members of either section of Pension Trust comprising:

- A 6% company contribution subject to a reasonable minimum employee contribution to be agreed; e.g. employee contribution 4%, employer contribution 6% (our observation was that employee and employer contributions of 0.5% were worthless);

- Company contributions to match employee contributions above the minimum employee contribution level, e.g. employee contribution 6%, employer contribution 8%; with a maximum employer contribution to be agreed and with no LEL deduction;

- death-in-service to apply with no claw-back of employee or employer contributions, and no LEL deduction;

- ill-health retirement with no GBP 3,000 deduction;

- for the purpose of tax-free calculations, sums to be taken from MPS before the FSS element;

- LEL, the current threshold for payment of national insurance contributions, is the amount the company will be deducting in future before calculating pension contributions thus reducing, in many cases, pensionable pay by one third. Someone on GBP 10,000pa will have a pension based on GBP 5,200 pensionable pay. Amicus wants pensions based on all normal pay

Contact Information

  • Amicus National Officer
    Ann Field
    07831 676587
    Amicus Press Office
    Ashraf Choudhury
    020 7420 8914 or 07980 224761
    Brian Gallagher