Heineken UK has said that it acted responsibly on pensions following news that the UK Pension Ombudsman will formally investigate complaints made against the brewer.

Trade union Unite said today (21 December) that it welcomes the investigation, which has emerged from a complaint against Heineken by a group of pensioners who worked for Scottish & Newcastle (S&N). Heineken bought S&N's UK business in 2008 and the dispute centres on commitments allegedly given by the brewer on increases to staff pension plans. 

Heineken, which said that the Ombudsman has already been weighing the merits of the case for several months, said today that it will continue to defend itself. A spokesperson for the brewer said: "Over the last few months, we have fully cooperated with the Ombudsman's office and provided detailed answers to any questions that have been put to us on the issue of discretionary increases."

He added: "Our position remains as it has always been, that where pensions are subject to discretionary increases, a decision on the level of such increases will be made on an annual basis and in light of prevailing circumstances. In November 2011, we announced a 2.5% discretionary increase for pensions which are subject to this provision. 

"Overall, we have acted responsibly and in the best interests of all our pension stakeholders." Unite accused the brewer of failing to honour its agreements to tens of thousands of pensioners.