“My wife literally broke down when she heard the news,” said Community member Pat Wiggins. It was the day Community finally got the government to pledge billions of pounds to provide pensions for people who had lost them after their employers went bust.
It was cause for celebration for Pat and all the Community members and their families who spent over five years campaigning for pensions justice.
Pat worked at Allied Steel and Wire in Sheerness until it folded in 2002. There wasn’t enough money to provide the workers with pensions they’d been saving for all their working lives.
“I was absolutely devastated when that happened because all my plans for the future went out of the window.
“I was planning on taking early retirement but there was no pension and it meant both me and my wife had to go back to work.
“It caused a lot of trauma in the community in Sheerness for everybody who worked at ASW and their families whose futures depended on getting a decent pension.”
“But the good thing was that Community was right behind us and the union made it clear that it would do whatever it takes to get us our pensions.”
With support from the union Pat and his colleagues took the then Labour government all the way to the European Court of Justice over the failure of successive governments to protect people’s pensions.
The campaign led to the creation of the Pension Protection Fund and Financial Assistance Scheme in 2004. Eventually the government set aside £12 billion for the Financial Assistance Scheme to cover the pension payments.
“We didn’t give up and thanks to the union there are thousands and thousands of people who have got a decent pension,” said Pat.