Shopworkers’ union Usdaw has called on its members employed by the Co-operative Group to stay calm over the Society’s proposal to ditch its final salary pension scheme.

The Society wants to replace the final salary pension with a career average scheme, which would force lower-paid members in Co-op retail stores to make much larger monthly payments to maintain their present pension provision - a move that has angered unions.

However, while the Transport and General Workers’ Union said it would not rule out industrial action over the issue, Usdaw hopes to talk to its members about possible alternative courses of action.

Usdaw national officer Sharon Ainsworth said: “We have always had a good relationship with the Co-operative Group so we’re massively disappointed we’ve failed to reach a suitable compromise that protects our members’ pensions. This decision that will leave most of their staff worse off is at odds with the traditions of the Co-operative movement and their vaunted ethical trading policy. However, we are in the process of talking to members about a considered approach to this problem. We are not happy with the changes but this is a long-term problem that needs a long-term view to be taken.”

Commenting on its new pension proposals, which are still subject the Society’s Trustees’ final approval, Co-op group secretary Nick Eyre said: “Within a climate of increasing pressure and uncertainty in terms of future pension provision, this scheme will allow our employees to plan ahead knowing that their pensions will be protected against future investment returns and increasing lifespans. It is a scheme which will continue to attract, motivate and retain a large number of employees in the UK.”

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