Page last updated at 16:13 GMT, Thursday, 8 April 2010 17:13 UK

AA patrol staff announce bank holiday strike

AA rescue van
It will be the first national strike in the history of the AA

AA patrol staff are to hold a two-day strike over the Spring bank holiday, starting on 2 May.

Members of the Independent Democratic Union (IDU) voted in favour of industrial action on Wednesday in a dispute over pensions.

The IDU said that this would be the first in a series of two-day strikes.

It will be the first national strike action in the AA's 105-year history. The company said it would try to minimise disruption to its service.

It would normally expect to deal with 40,000 vehicle breakdowns over the busy bank holiday period.

"Despite being timed by the union to cause maximum disruption, we are happy to reassure members that we have robust contingency plans in place to maintain a good service to members on strike days and will continue to work towards averting the industrial action," said AA president Edmund King.

It pointed out that 400 of its patrols were not part of the union.

Pensions row

The IDU said the AA's management had shown "utter contempt" for the patrols.

PENSION SCHEMES EXPLAINED
Occupational scheme - one organised by an employer
Final-salary scheme - guaranteed pension based on earnings at end of career and length of service. Also called defined benefits
Defined contribution scheme - investment fund, determined by contributions and investment returns, used to buy an annual pension. Also called a money purchase scheme

The AA is part of Acromas, which owns Saga, the travel and financial services company that sells products to people aged over 50.

The company wants to put a ceiling on annual rises in pensionable salaries, to raise employee contributions and also to cap the annual rise in pensions paid to 2.5% a year.

The final-salary scheme is already closed to new joiners, but Acromas believes it is being more generous than some other firms in keeping the scheme open for contributions from existing members.

It has also pledged to increase its contributions by £5m to £18m and to clear the pension scheme's £190m deficit.

"When you look at the problems that beset Readers Digest [which recently went into administration] and many blue chip companies over their pension deficits, we believe the fact that we want to keep our [final-salary] scheme open is good news," AA's Andrew Strong said after the ballot result was announced on Wednesday.

The national executive of the IDU met earlier to discuss that ballot result, in which 57% of the 2,000 who took part voted to strike.

The AA pointed out that this was "only 48%" of those balloted.

The IDU said there had been a "subsequent lack of response from the AA and Acromas management" and it had "no option" but to authorise a series of strikes.



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SEE ALSO
AA patrol staff vote for strike
07 Apr 10 |  Business
Q&A: Final salary schemes
17 Aug 09 |  Business

RELATED INTERNET LINKS
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FROM OTHER NEWS SITES
Ananova AA Patrol Staff Confirm May Strike Dates - 2 hrs ago
The Scotsman AA staff set to strike during bank holiday over pension - 15 hrs ago
Times Online AA patrol workers' strike to begin on May 2 - 21 hrs ago
Guardian.co.uk AA strikes will include May bank holiday - 25 hrs ago
Mirror.co.uk AA patrol staff to stage strikes - 26 hrs ago


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