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Last Updated: Monday, 17 December 2007, 13:54 GMT
Steelworkers welcome pension deal
Peter Hain meets former steel workers in London
Former steelworkers welcomed the compensation deal
Former steelworkers who lost most of their pensions when their employers went bust have welcomed the announcement of a compensation deal.

Around 800 ex-Cardiff Allied Steel and Wire (ASW) workers will be among those who see 90% of their pensions restored by the UK government.

The move will bring them in line with other workers covered by the Pensions Protection Fund, set up in 2005.

Up to 140,000 workers across the UK are set to receive the help.

Work and Pensions Secretary and Welsh Secretary Peter Hain has made a statement to the Commons and a government report into the issue has also been published.

You plan for your retirement and it was put on hold to a certain extent but now we are able to get back on track
Brian Silver, former ASW worker

Mr Hain said the money, which will mainly come from taxpayers, will deliver justice to workers "cruelly robbed" of their pensions.

Some 1,000 workers in Cardiff, Sheerness in Kent and Belfast were hit when ASW was declared bankrupt in 2002.

Since then former workers and trade unions have mounted a sustained campaign in the courts and through a series of high-profile protests.

Mr Hain said workers involved had done the right thing by saving for later life, only to see their pensions disappear through no fault of their own.

"Some I have spoken to were within weeks of retirement, having paid their contributions for 30 years or more when they were so cruelly deprived of their pension."

He said the settlement would "provide justice" for 140,000 people affected when their schemes were wound up, including members of schemes where the company was still solvent.

Ex-ASW worker Brian Silver, from Cardiff, said he was relieved by the announcement.

"It has been a long hard road over the last five-and-a-half years," he said.

"We started off our campaign saying that we should have received 100%, but obviously when you are in negotiations sometimes you fall short of what you would expect.

"It is drawing to its conclusion and people will be able to get on with their lives.

"You plan for your retirement and it was put on hold to a certain extent, but now we are able to get back on track.

"We have got a couple of grandchildren now and we will be able to take them on holiday and do the normal things that people do when they can afford to do it."

Public money

The UK government had been criticised by campaigners for refusing to accept findings by parliamentary ombudsman Ann Abraham, who said the government was guilty of maladministration and urged that victims who lost their pensions be compensated.

But the government insisted that public money would not be used for compensation.

However in February, four people who lost all or part of their company pensions won a High Court case against the government.

The court ruled the government was wrong to reject the ombudsman's report into the collapsed pension schemes but said it was not obliged to compensate an estimated 85,000 people for their loss.

There may still be some opposition among some ex-steelworkers to the 90% deal.

In July, they were angry after a move to set up a "lifeboat" fund was overturned in the Commons and ministers indicated they were prepared to move towards providing 90% of core entitlements for the 125,000 people affected.

Some, including campaigner and ex-ASW worker John Benson, from Cardiff, said they wanted their full entitlement.



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