UK - Former ASW workers have pledged to continue their battle over lost pensions irrespective of the findings of an internal probe by the European Commission.
The EC is currently looking at the UK’s implementation of the 1980 insolvency directive, which requires member states to protect staff pensions when a company becomes insolvent.
The move comes after five Welsh MPs presented a petition signed by more than 150 former workers calling for an investigation into their lost pensions. ASW scheme members lost up to 90% of their pension entitlements when the firm folded.
But lawyers say the review could jeopardise the Allied Steel and Wire case – which is due to go to the European Court of Justice early next year – if it finds the directive was implemented sufficiently.
Pinsents head of strategic development Robin Ellison said: “If the EC agrees with this, the ASW workers are really going to struggle.
“There was no absolute guarantee given, but measures such as the minimum funding requirement were introduced.”
He added: “The government could argue strongly that there was some form of implementation of directive. What the EC may criticise the government for is its implementation of 1997 wind-up regulations.”
EC spokesman Nick DeSouza said the “review” was part of a monitoring exercise that covered all EU members and he denied it related to the petition.
However, he said the EC, which will produce an internal report on the matter in January or February, could contain other “concerns” that would then be formally investigated.
Amicus spokesman Brian Gallagher said the workers would pursue court action regardless of the EC findings.
“It could hinder our case, but what they decide and what the court decides are different.”
He added: “The fact is they have not properly implemented the directive under article 8 or indeed the Human Rights Act under article 1.”
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