Call for government inquiry into UEF pension shortfall

The
collapse of engineering firm United Engineering Forgings (UEF) has put the
pensions of more than 1,300 workers at risk and prompted the T&G union to
call for a government inquiry.

The
union is also demanding an overhaul of the rules governing the liquidation of
pension schemes following the announcement of a £12m shortfall in UEF
contributions.

UEF
has been in administration since last June, less than two months after
actuaries told directors the pensions fund needed large additional employer
contributions.

Andy
Baird, regional secretary for T&G Scotland, said the union is committed to
the cause of the UEF employees and blamed existing legislation for causing the
situation.

"Loopholes
remain in the law that can deny workers their right to access pensions they
have contributed to throughout their working lives," he says.

Sandra
Osborne, Labour MP for Ayr, where one of the firm’s six sites is located, has
also taken up the cause.

She told
MPs that one worker employed by the firm for 37 years had seen the value of his
pension drop from a predicted lump sum of £29,500 and £137 a week in 1999 to a
lump sum of £12,500 and a weekly payout of £40.

In
response, Ian McCartney, the Pensions Minister, said pension scheme regulations
are under review but the Government will not bail out failing company schemes.

By Phil Boucher

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