ASW demonstration

Unions set to sue government 

BBC News

November 3, 2003

Unions have issued a legal writ on the government over the lost pension rights of hundreds of steelworkers in Wales. 

Amicus and the Iron and Steel Trades Confederation (ISTC) on Monday accused the government of failing to implement a European Union directive aimed at safeguarding the pensions of workers in firms which go into receivership. 

The action is being taken in support of 1,000 workers who lost their jobs earlier this year when steel firm ASW - which had factories in Cardiff and Sheerness - Kent, fell into receivership. 

Cardiff West MP Kevin Brennan has raised the subject of what he described as a pensions "scandal" during a debate in the House of Commons. 

He called on the government to investigate reform of the system which has led to some of the workers paying into an occupational pension scheme for over 40 years but now facing losing thousands of pounds. 
Many have been told they will receive half their promised pensions while others have been warned they could get 10%. 

Retirement hardship 
The two unions taking legal action said they believed the government's failure to properly implement the EU directive had left workers facing hardship in retirement. 

The workers would only receive a fraction of the pension for which they had saved over many years, the unions said. 

ISTC General Secretary Michael Leahy and Amicus Assistant General Secretary Paul Talbot, accompanied by former ASW workers, delivered the writ to the Department of Work and Pensions headquarters in London on Monday. 

The unions expect the case to be heard in the High Court early next year before being transferred to the European Court of Justice. 
A DWP spokesman said: "It is not appropriate to comment on any such legal action." 

He added that the department had taken strong interest in the ASW case but did not wish to raise false hopes.

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