UNION officials will oppose any move by Japanese owned glassmaker Pilkington’s to axe jobs and make sweeping changes to the company’s pensions.

GMB will carry a consultative ballot of its 500 St Helens members about proposed changes that it claims could reduce final pensionable pay.

The union claims the introduction of a cap on pensionable pay will erode past and future benefits by at least a fifth - and up to 40per cent for younger members.

The news comes on the back of Pilks, whose parent company is Nippon Sheet Glass, announcing it is cutting 33 jobs at Watson Street and 87 across its float plants at Greengate and the Cowley Hill.

It follows a drop for demand within the float glass and solar glass markets.

The union has vowed to challenge compulsory redundancies and raised the possibility that it will ballot for industrial action over “Draconian” pension measures Charlie Leonard, a GMB senior organiser said: “It has to be said that the company is suffering financially and at this moment in time is making heavy losses.

“Nonetheless, in terms of the redundancies, the GMB is determined to reduce and mitigate the impact of job cuts and to resist compulsory redundancies.

“On pensions with the changes the younger you are in the PSS scheme the worse it would be.

“In some cases it could reduce final pensionable pay by between 20 to 40per cent. This draconian step is being resisted by the GMB.

“Not only does it erode future benefits it also has an impact on past benefits i.e. accrued pension.

“Even though the manufacturing outlook is gloomy in the short run, our members are prepared to stand up and fight against these detrimental and Draconian proposals to reduce their pensions which will apply in the longer term.

“We are presently undergoing a consultative ballot of our members within Pilkington Glass to see whether or not they want to accept or reject the company’s proposals on pensions.

“This could well lead to a ballot for industrial action if the company does not change its position. GMB is determined to ensure that our members’ pensions and jobs are protected.”

Updates to follow