BT has advised the CWU that it intends to review the current BT Pension Scheme (BTPS) arrangements. At the same time it has also given the CWU 12 months notice to terminate the 2008 Pension Agreement. It was out intention to write to branches later this week but this has been brought forward given the media speculation over the weekend.
The 2008 Agreement was legally binding and was put in place to make the BTPS sustainable. Among other things the Agreement introduced career average benefits, raised the normal pension age to 65 and increased member contributions. The Agreement also included improvements in the BT Retirement Saving Scheme (BTRSS). Under the terms of the Agreement it can be amended by mutual agreement and can also be terminated by giving 12 months notice.
The BT announcement comes shortly after press reports suggest that the BTPS deficit in 2016 was in the region of £14 billion, up from £10 billion in 2015, and ahead of the triennial valuation which is due later this year. The valuation will determine the schedule of payments that BT has to make in order to fund the pension to ensure it meets its liabilities.
BT has stated that nothing has been ruled in or out and that if any changes are necessary it will be seeking to do this by agreement with the CWU.
The announcement of the review by BT and serving notice on the Agreement will naturally be of great concern to all CWU members in the BT Pension Scheme and will be increased due to the speculative press coverage in the last few days. In response the CWU has stressed our absolute opposition to closure of the Scheme for existing members and we have made it clear that we will use all means up to an including industrial action to keep the scheme open for current members.
The CWU has also confirmed that as the 2008 Agreement covers both the BTPS and BTRSS we will be seeking improvements to the BTRSS as part of the review process in line with our recent agreed Conference policy.
There is unlikely to be any developments in the next couple of months as the Union will now be commencing negotiations with BT over its plans for the future. We will issue updates as and when there is something further to report.