UK - Unite has issued details of the legal action it is taking against Ford over the pensions advice it gave to former employees.
The legal action - expected to start this week - could affect up to 3,000 people who, the union claims, received negligent advice when Visteon took over Ford's component plants in 2000.
In a legal document Unite's legal representation refers to statements in which it said Ford recommended that scheme members transferred their benefits into the smaller Visteon scheme after 1 May, 2000 when their employment was transferred from Ford to Visteon UK.
At the time of transfer the Visteon scheme was underfunded with a deficit of £350m. It entered into Pension Protection Fund assessment period on 31 March, 2009.
In one example stated by the claimants, union convenor David Cannon asked Ford director of personnel Bob Hill in an email in February 2000 to confirm in writing a number of interpretations and assurances that were given to employee representatives at a meeting on 7 February, 2000.
Hill responded: "Visteon would have to set up their own pension fund to mirror the Ford Fund. Ford would transfer funding to the Visteon Fund to adequately cover employees past service entitlements as recommended by an independent actuary."
In another example, the document said the defendant's (Ford Motor Company's) Pension Office approved and sanctioned a question and answer document that was provided by Visteon to the claimants on or about 18 April, 2000.
The Q&A document stated: "Visteon has committed to mirror the terms and conditions of Ford. This means that not only will your pension be secure but future increase by Ford will be passed on to you."
Unite said the first statement above asserted that pension benefits were guaranteed, while the second asserted that pension benefits were secure - both of which Unite said were wrong.
The claimants said relevant statements were made in circumstances in which Ford knew or should have known that the claimants would place reliance upon them when exercising their options in relation to their pension entitlements and, in particular, on whether or not they would transfer their accrued benefits in the Ford Pension Scheme into the Visteon Scheme.
Unite first threatened legal action in July last year when the union's lawyers wrote to Ford seeking compensation for former Ford employees who transferred to Visteon UK and lost their pension after receiving "misleading" advice from the automotive manufacturer.
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