KWV Limited is facing confrontation with former employees on both sides of the equator for allegedly moving to renege on a UK pension fund, while former employees in Paarl are suing through the labour courts for unfair dismissal about two years ago.

A group of 29 disgruntled employees from the KWV International's UK subsidiary Edward Cavendish & Sons (ECS), claim they face an impoverished old age because of KWV proposing to close down the "final salary" scheme despite the fact that they had contributed to it for many years.

On home turf KWV faces the prospect of facing a group of former senior employees, most of whom have long-term records, in the Labour Court in Cape Town on 30 June. Two weeks have been set aside for the case, which resulted from the retrenchment of 154 personnel in July 2001.

KWV spokesman, Albert Eksteen, said: "We believe we acted in terms of the law and followed the correct procedures."

In the UK spokesman for the former ECS employees Bob Stopp said members of the fund knew the scheme would be closed to new members, but remained deeply shocked that KWV would not be honouring their commitment to the former employees.

He said it was a "disgraceful betrayal" which was causing anguish and stress to all.

In response, Proctor said ECS had ascertained that the communiqué issued by Stopp did not represent the views of all affected former employees.

He said the decision to wind up this scheme was taken after much deliberation by the company when it faced the possibility of a deficit of over £1 million, which would have rendered ECS insolvent and resulted in a loss of jobs to more than 14 people.

"The company has always acted completely within the letter of the law, which is there, to protect all parties," he said.