Dutch contractor Ballast Nedam has refused a request to help cover the £58m owed to pension fund members of its collapsed UK arm Ballast.
Nedam pulled the plug on Ballast in October, sending it into administration. The assets in Ballast's pension fund were only enough to cover 17% of the pensions owed to members who had not reached retirement.

Existing pensioners' future payments will not grow in line with inflation.

On 25 November, Independent Pension Trustees managing director Chris Martin wrote to Nedam chairman Rene Kottman asking the Dutch company to make a voluntary top-up. Martin pointed out there was a precedent - oil company Maersk topped up its pension fund following significant negative press coverage in the UK. The move was applauded by the UK pensions regulator.

Nedam finance director Theo Bruijninckx replied that the company's responsibilities to its shareholders made a handout impossible.

He said: "It is with regret that Nedam is not able to provide a contribution … We do understand your concern."

In addressing his reply, Bruijninckx did not include Martin's name. A Ballast pension member said: "It just goes to show the level of interest shown by Nedam."

In Scotland, Ballast subcontractors who are out of pocket from working on the East Lothian schools project were due to meet yesterday to discuss how to get their money.

The director of subcontractor VB Contracts, Kenneth Walters, said that East Lothian council and the consortium of which Ballast was a member had a duty of care to ensure the contractor was financially healthy and that they should make up what was owed.