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FBU has go-ahead for judicial review into public-sector pensions

FIREFIGHTERS were granted a judicial review into the Tory-Lib Dem coalition government’s “discriminatory” public-sector pension reforms today.

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) welcomed the “major challenge,” saying that it marks an “important turning point in the battle” to get justice for workers in retirement.  

The union, and two named members, are the claimants in the case, while several other trade unions, including Unite and GMB, are involved as “interested parties.”

A separate claim by the British Medical Association has been held to overlap with this case so both will be heard together.

They centre around new public-sector pension schemes — introduced by then Tory Prime Minister David Cameron and his Lib Dem deputy Nick Clegg in 2015 — which were in most cases “substantially worse than the pension schemes that preceded them,” according to unions.

In 2019, the Supreme Court ruled that the new schemes were introduced in a way that was discriminatory on age grounds and ordered them to be reversed by this year. 

Tory ministers, who estimated the cost of the U-turn would be £17 billion, attempted to “try and shift this cost to the members of the post-2015 schemes,” particularly younger members, the FBU charged.

National officer Mark Rowe said: “Firefighters and other public-sector workers shouldn’t be forced to pay for discrimination against their own workforces – it’s a disgusting attempt to heap the burden for these dreadful pension mistakes on workers.

“We’ve been challenging the government on these pension reforms since 2015 and winning time and time again.

“It is high time the government finally got its act together and sorted this out once and for all.

“However, if they don’t, we will pursue this case for as long as it takes to win firefighters what they deserve.”

The union said: “The government is attempting to use the benefits from the 2015 pension scheme, that should be passed on to the members of that scheme, to pay for the government’s own discrimination. 

“Firefighters did not introduce the discrimination – the government did.”

The other unions named as “interested parties” are the Public and Commercial Services Union, the Prison Officers Association and the Royal College of Nursing. 

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