Britain’s biggest union has accused Anglian Water of trying to provoke a strike by refusing to go to Acas in a dispute over pension changes.
But the water company says the union Unite’s position is ‘wholly unrepresentative’ of the views of its staff.
The union says more than 5,000 Anglian Water workers are affected by the pension scheme’s proposed closure and a 3,700 more by proposed changes to a separate defined contribution scheme.
Unite, with the GMB and Unison held a meeting with Anglian Water chief executive Peter Simpson last Thursday where they say the water boss refused a request to meet at the conciliation service Acas.
Unite regional officer Adam Oakes said: “Rather than entering into talks, management is trying to railroad through pension changes which could see some lose up to £100,000 in retirement income. The offer of a derisory £600 in compensation, at a time when Anglian Water is paying out millions to shareholders, is an insult to a loyal workforce.
An Anglian Water spokesperson said: “There is no reason to go to ACAS while the unions refuse to be open about what support there is for their position, if any.
“They’ve refused to share turnout numbers, and emails canvassing opinion have not even given employees the option to accept the generous deal we’ve put on the table.
“Their posturing is wholly unrepresentative of people who work at Anglian Water.”
The company says 3,500 staff have already signed up to accept changes.
East of England Labour MEP Alex Mayer said she would today (Monday) challenge Anglian Water bosses to prove the current pension scheme is unaffordable.
She added: “Local staff have contacted me and are rightfully angry. They are quite literally seeing their pension money going down the drain.
“I am in firm belief that Anglian water can well afford to pay for their staff’s pensions. It is a drop in the ocean for them.”