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Business News

Harrods employees threaten to strike over pensions closure

Harrods announced plans to close its final-salary scheme to new and existing members last month, claiming the burden of a £111m deficit had become too great. However, the Transport & General Workers' Union hit out at the retailer, claiming it had refused to consult with union representatives over the move, and that its talks with staff had been "phoney".

Madeleine Richards, T&G's regional industrial organiser, said: "Our members are keeping their options open. If Harrods doesn't respond positively, this could go as far as the threat of an industrial action ballot.

"Harrods have argued the pension changes are necessary because of the risk of higher costs in the future. If that is the case, the board should look at the £66m paid in dividends to the owner and chairman in the past two years. Even putting half of this huge payout into the pension scheme would help shore up the future of Harrods staff."

Amicus, which has about 100 members at Harrods, said the company had ignored its attempts to suggest fairer optionsto closing the final-salary scheme. The regional secretary, Jennie Bremner, said: "The world's most famous shop which serves the rich and famous is facing a very expensive strike."

Harrods' scheme has 6,541 members, of which 1,500 are active members who would be directly affected by the closure.

Harrods said it had engaged in full and proper consultation with its employees and their union representatives. A spokesperson said: "The approach Amicus has chosen to pursue is not in the best interests of its members and does nothing to engender mutual understanding ... between the parties. Allusions to possible industrial action are unfounded, premature and unhelpful - and the Harrods Group will not be held to ransom by the threat of strike action which, while inconvenient, would not prevent the store from trading."