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Nissan to end its Washington defined benefits pension scheme

written by Bella Palmer

The closure is set to affect around 1,800 workers at Nissan's car plant at Washington, north-east England

Around 1,800 workers at Nissan's car plant at Washington in north-east England are set to lose money after the Japanese automobile company announced plans to end its defined benefits (DB) pension scheme.

The company said that it had grown to "unsustainable levels," but it still aimed to provide competitive benefits for staff in Washington.

Nissan announced major restructuring plans a week earlier.

The Unite union termed the pension closure plan "opportunistic".

Defined benefits pensions members receive annual payments based on their salary and years of service rather than the amount they have paid in.

Steve Bush of Unite said there was "anger" as the closure of the pension scheme would hit workers who were "the bedrock" of the Washington plant's success.

Steve said this is the best, most-efficient car plant in Europe and people with 20 or more years of service have got this extremely disappointing news.

He said, Unite warned last week that proposed efficiency savings at the plant must not be used as an excuse to attack staff terms and conditions.

Due to the timing, we see this as an opportunistic attempt to push through long-sought-after changes that will have a damaging impact on our members' plans and financial security in retirement.

A spokesman for Nissan said that the firm was consulting workers.

He added: We aim to provide competitive benefits to our highly valued staff, but these have to be balanced with the long-term sustainability of our business.

The level of company investment needed to maintain the defined benefit pension plan has grown to unsustainable levels.

This planned consultation is not a short-term action. It is based on the formal valuation of the scheme carried out in April 2018 and is the next step in a long-term process.

Overall, around 7,000 people are employed at the factory, although the majority of them are currently furloughed as the coronavirus outbreak has halted production at the facility.


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