Hereford’s MP has attacked a large employer in the city for blocking attempts on behalf of hundreds of pensioners to gain a greater share of the company pension fund.

Jesse Norman said he had “been fighting for more than 15 years without success on behalf of many former employees of Special Metals Wiggin (SMW) whose pensions have been frozen in value since 1997”.

He said that the company, based off Holmer Road in the north of Hereford, now “appears to be using every means it can” to prevent the election of a pensioner’s representative to influence how the company pension fund is used.


Les Collard, 85, who retired from the company in 1992 after more than 30 years’ service, was nominated by fellow pension members to become a pension fund trustee.

But this was rejected by fellow trustees, apparently at the behest of the US-owned company, leaving the fund board with only company appointees.

This follows a decades-long but still unsuccessful attempt by ex-employees to increase their pensions, frozen or part-frozen since the late 1990s due to a legal loophole.


“It is a terrible double injustice: both to have denied these elderly, infirm and badly mistreated men and women any increases in their pensions for more than 25 years, and to deny them now their democratic right even to have their own trustee to make the case,” Mr Norman said.

The MP, a transport minister in the Government, had previously asked, “in vain”, for the support of US investor Warren Buffett, one of the world’s richest men, whose Berkshire Hathaway conglomerate became the ultimate owner of SMW in 2016.

At its peak the firm, which produces specialist alloys, employed around 4,000 people, making it one of the county’s largest employers, but the figure is now thought to be below 500.

What are your thoughts?

You can send a letter to the editor to have your say by clicking here.

Letters should not exceed 250 words and local issues take precedence.

Mr Collard said the company “is waiting for its older ex-workers to die” so it can take back millions of pounds sitting in its pension pot.

He is now pursuing the case with the Pensions Regulator, as he believes pensioners “have been denied their legal right to representation” at the firm.

Special Metals Wiggin was asked why Mr Collard’s nomination had been refused, but did not reply.