British unions lose legal challenge over $23 bln pension reform bill
Two British trade unions on Friday lost a legal challenge to changes to public sector pensions they argue allows the government to unlawfully pass the 19-billion-pound ($23 billion) cost of discriminatory pension reforms onto workers.
Two British trade unions on Friday lost a legal challenge to changes to public sector pensions they argue allows the government to unlawfully pass the 19-billion-pound ($23 billion) cost of discriminatory pension reforms onto workers. The Fire Brigades Union and the British Medical Association argued Britain's finance ministry was effectively making members of newer pension schemes foot the bill for its own mistake.
But a judge at London's High Court dismissed the two unions' case in a written ruling on Friday. The legal action followed a 2018 court ruling that the exclusion of younger staff from more beneficial "legacy" pension schemes, as part of wider government reforms, amounted to unlawful age discrimination.
That decision landed the government with a bill estimated at between 17 and 19 billion pounds in additional future pension payments to around three million public sector workers. In 2021, the government included that bill in the valuation of public sector pension schemes – without which, the unions said, scheme members' benefits would have increased or their contributions would have been reduced.
The unions' lawyers argued at a hearing in January that the decision was unlawful as it was taken without assessing other options. However, the government said it was faced with a "basic choice" between asking public sector employees – and ultimately the taxpayer – or pension scheme members to bear the cost.
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