Unilever 'Scrooges' hit back over staff strike

  • @Thompj

The consumer goods giant Unilever has been labelled a "modern day Scrooge" after it scrapped the Christmas party, hampers and bonuses for factory staff who staged its first UK strike yesterday.

More than 2,500 employees at the maker of Dove shampoo and Marmite walked out at nine UK factories over the axing of their final salary pension schemes.

Unilever had planned to give staff Christmas hampers and £15 gift vouchers but said this was now "inappropriate" and will instead donate the gifts to charity.

In addition to axing this year's Christmas party at Port Sunlight, it has also told factory staff they cannot book a holiday in 2012 due to the threat of more industrial action. Jennie Formby, the national officer at the Unite union, said: "First Unilever slash pensions, now they're cancelling Christmas celebrations... Unilever seem to be acting like a modern day Scrooge."

But Unilever hit back at the "disproportionate" strike. A spokesman said: "We believe the provision of final salary pensions is a broken model which is no longer appropriate for Unilever." The firm, which made profits of €6.13bn in 2010, is offering all its UK staff a "defined benefit" career average pension plan on earnings up to £48,000.