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BA bosses risk strike with threats to staff pensions

UNIONS at British Airways are consulting their members as bosses confirmed they intend to replace workers’ existing pension schemes with versions paying out substantially less.

Consultations have been ongoing with unions representing around 37,000 workers since the cash grab was announced in September.

Two pension schemes are affected, one representing 20,000 workers, the other 17,000.

In a message to its members, union Unite said it believed that “the position reached is now the maximum that can be achieved by negotiation” and “the best that can be negotiated in extremely difficult circumstances.”

No recommendation was made on rejecting or accepting the new pensions scheme.

Union representatives and members will be given information on the new scheme and a full ballot on whether to accept it or not will take place in January.

One of the schemes to be abolished had a £2.8 billion deficit in 2015.

International Airlines Group, which owns BA, said it would be launching a “flexible benefits scheme” incorporating a new defined-contribution pension scheme.

The scheme would replace the main defined benefit scheme, the New Airways Pension Scheme (NAPS) and the main defined-contribution scheme, the British Airways Retirement Plan (BARP).

“The changes are subject to NAPS trustees agreeing to amend the scheme’s rules to enable closure to future accrual,” the statement said.

“The new scheme will offer market-competitive arrangements with a choice of contribution rates and the ability to opt for cash instead of a pension.

“Active NAPS members will also be offered a choice of transition arrangements including a cash lump sum, additional company pension contributions or additional pension benefits in NAPS prior to its closure.”

British Airways intends to implement the new scheme on April 1 next year.

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