The staff at Barclays are threatening to strike over the bank’s plans to close the gold plated final salary pension schemes to existing members.

Staff are up in arms about the pending decision to abolish the gold plated scheme and Unite – the union – said that there could be strikes in September.

Around 17,000 members of staff will be affected and see them switching to any future earnings under the ‘Afterwork’ scheme, which does not link retirement payments to salaries.

The ‘Afterwork’ scheme is a high street lenders defined contribution scheme and Unite’s members are said to be incensed at the plans revealed, with 92% of staff requesting an industrial action ballot.

Members of Unite will vote next month and strikes are possible for September. This worries Barclays as it would significantly affect the service that they provide to their customers.

The scheme closed in 1997 and last month John Varley, Barcalys’s chief executive, explained that this was due to the current arrangements being unsustainable and that the scheme already had a £2.2 billion deficit, that was only likely to worsen.

By moving staff to the ‘Afterwork’ scheme, the bank is likely to save £150 million a year but will leave final salary benefits to around 1,500 investment bankers – many of whom already earn top figures and get multi-million pound bonuses.

Unite have spoken out on behalf of employees, stating that the changes made to those holding gold plated final salary pensions were unacceptable and they were going to stand by their members. They have also said that they cannot stand by businesses who use the credit crunch as an excuse to forget about important terms and conditions already agreed on by employee and employer.

Many of those who have been long standing employees are feeling betrayed by Barclays and after a consultation with members it seems as though there is a lot of anger surrounding the pensions issue.

Unite has gone to Barclays with a list of viable alternatives to make cost savings, but has explained that it is essential to keep the existing scheme. However, Barclay’s have failed to meet with the union to discuss these points, which makes a strike by the 25,000 people that Unite represent all the more likely.