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Last Updated: Friday, 17 February 2006, 20:07 GMT
Hoverspeed staff in pension fears
Letter from Hoverspeed liquidators
Former Hoverspeed employees received this letter on Friday
Former workers of ferry operator Hoverspeed fear they may not get their full pensions after the company went into liquidation.

Some staff who lost their jobs when Hoverspeed stopped sailings from Dover to Calais in November have had letters saying the pension fund is in deficit.

The liquidator's letter does not make clear the size of the deficit but says the future is unclear for fund members.

"This is adding insult to injury," said Dover and Deal MP Gwyn Prosser.

"These workers lost their jobs before Christmas and before spring comes they have been told they might lose their pensions as well."

Some members have told us they are looking at pensions of 20,000 a year that could just not be there
Andrew Linnington, Numast

Hoverspeed, which was owned by Sea Containers, ran two Seacat fast ferries between Dover and Calais, employing 102 staff in Kent and about 60 in Europe.

About two dozen staff were kept on to maintain the vessels but about 75 in Kent lost their jobs.

Mr Prosser said some employees had worked for Hoverspeed for many years.

"The only compensation they might have had was that they had their long service pensions to fall back on," said Mr Prosser.

The former Hoverspeed employees should qualify for help from the government's Pension Protection Scheme set up last year.

Hoverspeed Sea Cat ferry
Hoverspeed employed 102 staff in Dover and about 60 more in Europe

"There is money available but that can take years to come through," said Mr Prosser.

"What these people want is certainty and security."

Andrew Linnington, a spokesman for the marine workers' union, Numast, said the union was trying to engage in dialogue with Sea Containers.

He said: "Some members have told us they are looking at pensions of 20,000 a year that could just not be there. It is serious stuff."

Liquidators told BBC South East Today that they were searching for money to see if they could rescue the pension plan.

Find out what staff and unions are doing about the situation

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