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MORE than four million public-sector workers have been “swindled” out of £2.4 billion in pensions because of a government error, according to the GMB union.
The union is demanding that the cash be repaid, but says the government is delaying reimbursement while fighting a court judgment.
GMB said 4.1 million NHS, Civil Service and local authority staff have been mistakenly overcharged for their pensions.
The government had agreed to pay the cash back by reducing workers’ required contributions and by increasing their pensions.
But GMB accused the government of hanging onto the cash instead to cover other pension costs — including to pay for the aftermath of a court case resulting from “botched” plans to raise the retirement age for public-sector workers, known as the McCloud judgment.
Under a government scheme, people close to retirement were protected from the changes and allowed to stay in their existing pension schemes — a move which has been found to be age discriminatory by the courts.
Treasury Minister Liz Truss had revealed that remedies that would see improvements for GMB members have been paused while the government appeals the decision.
GMB wrote to Prime Minister Theresa May yesterday and will also petition Ms Truss in its demand for action to repay the cash.
GMB national pensions organiser George Georgiou said: “It’s absolutely outrageous ministers think they can swindle £2.4bn out of dedicated public-sector workers’ pensions.
“These are the people who keep our health service, councils and government running.
“Our public-sector workers graft hard for years, saving for their retirement, only for the government to take their money to pay for ministers’ own mistakes.
“They should be ashamed of themselves and take steps to put it right immediately — these improvements to benefits are needed particularly for low-paid public-sector workers.
“No-one signed up to work longer, pay more and get less against real-terms pay cuts.
“GMB won’t stop fighting until ministers put an end to the great public-sector pension swindle.”
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