Unions to head to court over McCloud cost concerns

Six trade unions have applied to the High Court for a Judicial Review in relation to public sector pension changes, arguing that the government is trying to make workers pay for the McCloud remedy.

The six unions, the Fire Brigades Union, GMB, PCS, the Prison Officers Association, the Royal College of Nursing and Unite, suggested that the government is trying to impose the cost of the McCloud remedy onto those who are now in the 2015 pension scheme.

However, it argued that this “amounts to age discrimination in and of itself”, as members of the newer scheme are typically younger than members of the old scheme.

The McCloud remedy seeks to address age discrimination previously identified in a 2018 High Court ruling, with a number of consultations on the specific changes required to implement this currently underway.

Commenting on the plans, PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “Our members and key workers across the public sector have kept the country running during the pandemic and yet the government, their employer, has treated them appallingly. Bringing this case is a significant, united step in fighting this great injustice.”

Adding to this, Royal College of Nursing Trade Union Committee chair, Graham Revie, said: “We are calling on the government to remedy this situation without unfairly penalising members of the NHS pension scheme.

“We are fighting for the rights of our members to have the pensions they deserve after years of devoted service to the NHS. We are an interested party in this judicial review seeking to challenge these regulations.”

Fire Brigades Union national officer, Mark Rowe, added: “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 per cent 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.”

A HM Treasury spokesperson said: “We cannot comment on ongoing litigation.”

The judicial review applications are the latest in a string of similar moves from unions and industry bodies.

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