Wellbeing & Benefits

Closing the pension scheme for Tata Steel workers is in the “best interest” of its 130,000 members, the executive leading the buyout bid has insisted. Stuart Wilkie said Excalibur Steel could not afford to take on the liabilities and the best option was to start again.

The former hub director of Tata Steel’s Strip Products denied he was trying to leave taxpayers to pick up the costs, claiming the social consequences of widespread job losses outweighed any Government support. He told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: “We think it is important that pension is safeguarded for the future.

“An organisation like ourselves could not raise the funds just now to support the pension scheme going forward. So we believe it is in the best interest of the pensioners that that scheme is effectively closed and we start with a new scheme.”

Excalibur Steel announced on Wednesday that two steel industry executives had joined the management buyout team.

Neil Davies and Martin Driscoll both join from senior positions with Tata Steel Europe, which has released the two men for the period of the bidding process.

Tata Steel UK’s £15 billion pension fund is in deficit by £485 million.

“Yes, we are clearly asking the Government for a 25% contribution which Sajid Javid announced last week in relation to the buyout proposal. That’s an offer to everyone else,” the chief executive of Excalibur said.

“If you step back and look at the social consequences should steel-making stop in an area such as Port Talbot or indeed across the UK, the numbers multiply tenfold against that number.”

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