The trade union represents 1,000 workers at Morrisons warehouses in Cheshire and Wakefield, and is organising briefings with members in the coming weeks to seek support to take action.
The supermarket chain recently set out a proposal to cut its pension contributions from 5% to 3% over the next few years, while increasing the pensions contributions of its approximately 60,000 hourly paid employees from 3% to 5%. From 8 March 2024, Morrisons has proposed a switch to 4% contributions from both the employee and employer, before moving to the above system from 7 March 2025.
The grocery giant has claimed that its contributions will increase under proposed changes to the auto-enrolment pension scheme, which will eradicate the lower earnings limit of £6,240. The new scheme, if adopted, will require employers to pay a minimum of 3% of an employees salary a year into a pension pot on any earnings up to £50,270.
Unite general secretary, Sharon Graham described the retailer as a “pension villain” that is planning on “fleecing” its workers under these proposals.
“This is blatant profiteering and a disgraceful new low for this well-known supermarket,” Graham said.
“The pension schemes are in surplus and the company is in profit, there is no justification for this attack. Unite will support its members in whatever action they choose to take and strike action is a distinct possibility.”
Unite estimates that Morrisons would save up to £10m a year from the changes.
The union's national officer Adrian Jones added: “Morrisons is wrongly claiming it needs to make cuts due to the government changing the rules on pension contributions. This attack on workers’ deferred pay is all about increasing profits. Unite will stand by its members who choose to fight these attacks on pay and benefits.”