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Last Updated: Thursday, 13 May, 2004, 15:03 GMT 16:03 UK
Ex-steelworkers win back pensions
ASW furnace in Cardiff
Hundreds of ASW steelworkers lost their pensions
Former steelworkers who lost most of their pensions when their company collapsed are to have the funds at least partially backdated, an MP says.

Derek Wyatt MP told BBC Radio Kent a resolution is now close.

Ex-employees of Allied Steel and Wire (ASW) fought a long-running campaign to win back their pensions.

The government had already planned new laws to stop other workers losing their pensions in the same way - but this did not include former ASW staff.

ASW had plants in Kent and Cardiff.

This is a huge decision by the government - we welcome it with open arms
Derek Wyatt MP

Mr Wyatt said: "I think there will be a statement in the next day or two saying there is a resolution finally for the 60,000 people like those at ASW Sheerness whose pensions are in administration or in serious trouble."

The Labour MP, who met with Tony Blair three weeks ago, said his instinct was that a fund for the backdated pensions payments would be established by April 2005.

"I suspect that's a capped fund - I don't know whether that will be 40m or 55m or whatever," he said.

"No chancellor is going to put a fund up that has got elasticity in it.

Pensions paperwork

"He is going to say, 'This is what I am prepared to put into it - now claim it'."

The Sittingbourne and Sheppey MP added: "The real problem is these pensions go back 20 or 30 years and they are on paper.

"We say there are 60,000, but there might be 48,000 or 75,000 people who find their bits of paper."

He added: "This is a huge decision by the government - we welcome it with open arms."

About 800 ASW workers in Cardiff lost most of their occupational pensions, as well as their jobs, when the firm collapsed on July 2002 and 300 workers were made redundant at ASW's Sheerness plant.

Pension priorities
10 May 04  |  Business


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