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Legal challenge to High Court pensions ruling

Unions are set to launch an appeal after losing a legal challenge to the way public sector pensions are calculated. Last year, a High Court decision approved the switch for uprating pensions from Retail Price Index (RPI) to the usually lower Consumer Price Index (CPI).

The Government implemented the switch to save money and thus cut the deficit, on the grounds that CPI is a “more appropriate” measure of changes to most prices.

Unite, GMB, Prospect, PCS, NUT and NASUWT will stage a protest outside the court as they appeal the decision with a “robust legal challenge”.

The unions argue that the change represents a 15% increase in pension contributions for public sector workers, at a time where living costs are significantly increasing.

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said: “The change in how pensions are calculated is an attack on all workers. It is a scandal that across the economy, workers who have done the right thing and saved for their retirements are now looking at a much reduced pension income.”

Brian Strutton, national officer of the GMB, said: “GMB consider that the High Court was wrong in fact and in law regarding this change to long-standing employment contracts which cuts pensions in payment by 15% and more. That is the reason GMB, with the other unions, is mounting this robust legal challenge to that decision.”

Paul Noon, general secretary of the civil service union Prospect, said: “It will mean a permanent fall in standards of living for millions of people, breaking the promises made to them during the years they were saving for their pension.”

Public and Commercial Services union leader Mark Serwotka said: “The switch from RPI to CPI is an example of how this Government wants public servants, pensioners and people entitled to benefits to pay the heaviest price for the recession.”

Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said: “The Government’s action is unfair to pensioners and its efforts to hide behind obscure legislation have fooled no one.”

Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT teachers’ union, said: “I hope that the Court of Appeal recognises that teachers who entered into an agreement to save for their pension should continue to expect that the agreement will be honoured.”

Image c. N Hall

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