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Victory for FBU in pensions dispute


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PC Lee Broadbent: 'The arguments we have been advancing for the last four years have been vindicated'.

Victory for FBU in pensions dispute


Date - 27th June 2019
By - Martin Buhagiar - Police Oracle
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The firefighters' union is celebrating a major victory in a long-running dispute with the government over changes to pensions.

Today the Supreme Court refused the government's application for permission to appeal a ruling in the Court of Appeal last December over changes made to pensions in 2015.

The Police Federation says it is due to meet key stakeholders on July 1 to dicsuss the implications of this ruling.

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) took thousands of employment tribunal claims arguing the public sector pension scheme was "substantially worsened" in 2015, and the protection imposed on younger members was unlawful on age, sex and race discrimination grounds.

The case will now be remitted back to an employment tribunal, said the FBU.

Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said: "This is a hard-fought victory for the union and more importantly for our members. FBU members took action for what they believed to be right, and today, we have been vindicated.

"This ruling proves the government has discriminated against thousands of younger firefighters. They must now rectify the damage they unnecessarily caused.

"The Tory/Lib Dem government took no notice of the evidence we provided about the specific nature of firefighters' work. An occupational pension should be based on the realities of that occupation. The government ignored this."

The coalition government pushed through a series of changes that meant public sector workers were moved to new pension schemes in 2015. The new schemes typically offered less generous terms.

As part of the changes, the government put in place transitional arrangements which meant older workers could stay in the existing, more generous schemes, while younger workers had to transfer to the new schemes.

A group of judges and a group of firefighters took the issue to court and on December 20 the Court of Appeal ruled the transitional arrangements offered to some members amounted to unlawful discrimination.

Police Federation chairman John Apter said: "While I appreciate the demand for immediate answers, we have to wait for the government to respond to the Supreme Court’s announcement, analyse the decision and establish what it means for all our members.

"What I can tell you is that the Police Federation along with other key stakeholders in policing are meeting on Monday to discuss the implications of this ruling. We will update you as soon as we have more information. Please understand this is a highly complex matter, and we won’t have answers for you immediately – but as soon as we do we will let you know."

Mr Apter added the Fed had been urging the government for some time to come to an industrial resolution for all public sector pensions.

PC Lee Broadbent began the Pensions Challenge for officers disadvantaged by moving to the new scheme. He went to Leigh Day with the case - the firm that was was already handling the claim from judges and firefighters. 

On Twitter, Mr Broadbent said today: "What fantastic news and a great transferable result for the FBU along with the judiciary. The arguments we have been advancing for the last four years have been vindicated.

"It is important to remember some colleagues will feel anxious by the result, it is early days and as we enter into the remedy phase more details on the result and what it means will unfold. I honestly believe our protected colleagues have nothing to fear.

"I do however completely understand the concerns, which will hopefully be alleviated soon. In the mean time I am going to celebrate the culmination of five years of teamwork, drink the doubts away and raise a glass to our supporters."

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