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Usdaw is in talks with Asda over “unfair” pension cuts, after nearly 2,000 Northern Irish staff signed a petition against the move.

The shopworkers union said it would be urging Asda’s leadership to think again about the cuts, which it claimed would leave staff with less choice about saving for their retirement and reduced benefits.

The retailer last month launched a 60-day consultation on changes to its pension scheme. Under the proposals Asda would no longer match staff pension contributions, with plans to make staff make up more than half of their pension through contributions.

The GMB union has already threatened to go to court to stop the changes which, among other changes, would see the death-in-service provision reduced from four times pay to one times pay for all staff, plus Asda would no longer match staff pension contributions, opting to pay less than staff into the scheme.

Michala Lafferty, Usdaw area organiser, said: “Usdaw is the trade union for Asda staff in Northern Ireland, who are outraged by the company’s proposals. Feelings are running high, which is demonstrated by us collecting so many petition signatures in just over a week. Staff are still signing up to voice their opposition to the plans to worsen their pension and life assurance employee benefit package and call on the company to withdraw the proposals.

“Usdaw believes that to worsen the current terms and conditions of the scheme is unfair, unreasonable and unnecessary. Pensions are not a bonus or gift, they are based on earnings and are effectively deferred wages. Usdaw believes it is an entitlement and we view this proposal as nothing more than a wage cut.

“At today’s meeting, Usdaw will be calling on Asda to withdraw these changes and engage in meaningful talks to find a way forward.”