BT workers vote to accept DB scheme closure

The BT defined benefit scheme looks set to close to future accrual after a majority of members voted to accept a package of improvements to pay and the terms of the DC scheme.

BT announced plans to review its defined benefit pension scheme (BTPS) in spring last year. The scheme closed to new members in 2001 and since then anyone joining BT has been offered the BT Retirement Saving Scheme (BTRSS), a DC scheme.

BT had proposed to close the defined benefit scheme to future accrual from April this year for around 11,000 managers employed pre-2001, moving them into the BTRSS.

Prospect, the union, balloted members on a pay and pensions offer negotiated at the end of last year. The offer included an increase in pay of between 1 and 2 per cent depending on performance rating and position in pay range, extra transitional payments for members who are being moved out of BTPS to BTRSS and an increase in employer contributions for existing BTRSS members.

The ballot closed on Friday 5 January. Members voted to accept the pay offer by 74 per cent, and 60 per cent of members voted to accept BT’s pension proposals.

BTPS members voted by 57 per cent to accept the proposals, and BTRSS members voted by 85 per cent to accept.

Prospect national secretary Philippa Childs says: “This vote gives us a mandate on which to reach a final agreement with BT. While the margin among those in the BTPS is understandably much closer, members in both schemes have voted to accept the proposals.
“We recognise that this has been a difficult and painful decision for those who are currently members of the BTPS.

“However, the improvements we have negotiated and the transition arrangements will soften the blow for those having to move. Those who are already in the BTRSS, because they joined BT after 2001, will also see improvements.”

A BT spokesperson says: “We’re pleased that employees represented by Prospect have voted to accept the changes we’re proposing to our two largest pension schemes.

“We understand the importance of our proposals for our employees and have spent considerable time developing them and working with Prospect, to ensure they are fair, flexible and affordable for all.

“Our employee consultation is due to end on January 17, after which we’ll consider all feedback before announcing our plans.”