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EDITIONS
Thursday, 13 February, 2003, 15:17 GMT
Pensions hope for steelworkers
Allied Steel and Wire at Tremorfa, Cardiff
Jobs were also lost at ASW in Cardiff
An MP has said there may be hope for workers at a Kent steel firm who feared they had lost their pension rights.

When the steel manufacturer Allied Steel and Wire (ASW) went into receivership last July, many employees were told they would not receive their full company pensions because of a shortfall in the fund.

But Derek Wyatt, MP for Sittingbourne and Sheppey, said on Thursday there might be a way to help the 300 workers made redundant at ASW's Sheerness plant.

The government hopes to pass a bill allowing the interest from unclaimed pension funds from other companies, some going back hundreds of years, to be used to meet pension shortfalls.

If we can get everyone together, then the chances are that we can get this one through

Derek Wyatt, MP for Sittingbourne and Sheppey

Mr Wyatt said it would be an ideal way to help ASW pensioners without the Treasury having to pay out.

He said: "There are pension funds stretching back unbelievably 400 or 500 years that haven't been claimed.

"What the pension fund people want in the city is for us to say OK, let's put an advert out.

"Listen, here are the funds - let's put a three-year date on it and let's cap it in three years' time.

Blair questioned

"Let's use that interest, which would be 2bn or 3bn a year, to pay for the deficits in ASW's pension fund."

Mr Wyatt said MP Kevin Brennan, who represents workers at ASW's Welsh plants, had questioned Prime Minister Tony Blair in Parliament about the steelworkers' case.

Mr Wyatt has now called on all political parties, businesses and unions to back the pension fund proposal.

Steel tariffs [an error occurred while processing this directive]

"If we can get everyone together then the chances are that we can get this one through," he said.

ASW went into receivership last year in the wake of US steel tariffs.

Last month, Spanish steel firm Celsa agreed to buy ASW's plant in Cardiff, which also closed in July 2002, with the loss of more than 800 jobs.


Click here to go to Kent
See also:

19 Nov 02 | England
11 Nov 02 | Wales
24 Jul 02 | Wales
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