Six trade unions – the Fire Brigades Union, GMB, PCS, the Prison Officers Association, the Royal College of Nursing, and Unite – have applied to the High Court for judicial review in relation to pension changes.
The six unions say that the government is trying to make some public-sector workers essentially pay for the government’s discrimination.
The courts had previously ruled that the government’s public-sector pension reforms discriminated against firefighters based upon their ages on 1 April 2012 (the McCloud and Sargeant cases). Older workers had been allowed to stay on a previous pension scheme whilst younger workers had been required to leave it and/or be transitioned onto the new 2015 scheme.
The government has said that it will try to impose the cost of the government’s discrimination onto those who are now on that 2015 pension scheme.
The unions claim that this amounts to age discrimination in and of itself, since members of the newer scheme, who are being forced to carry these costs, tend to be younger than members of the old scheme, who are not.
Mark Rowe, national officer for the Fire Brigades Union, said: ‘It is unbelievable that the government is trying to make public sector workers pay for the government’s own discrimination. The government needs to get a grip, recognise its mistakes, recognise the highly valuable contribution that public-sector workers make every day, and sort out this issue in a timely and straightforward manner. Years after the relevant pension reforms came in the government is still in a mess over this. The FBU has fought for decades for our members’ pensions, and we will continue to fight for what is right and what our members were promised.
‘The government is trying to make public-sector workers pay via a scheme in their pensions called “cost control”. Cost control adjusts pension contributions or benefits if the actual cost of the pension scheme diverges from the target cost of the pension scheme by 2% or more, with workers losing out if the actual cost is higher.
‘It was the government who introduced the cost-control mechanism into the new pension scheme. The mechanism provided that savings from the new scheme should be passed on to those scheme members. The government now wish to ignore the legislation that made that provision, legislation that they introduced.’