Firefighters and Judges win £5 billion pensions battle with the government

A victorious Matt Wrack points the way for firefighters to get justice Pic credit : FBU

The new government has suffered two major losses within days of winning the general election over economies made to workplace pensions in the public sector.

First on Monday judges won a victory which will benefit up to 1000 part time judges who lost out on their pensions when they moved from part time to full time work.

They claimed they while they were working part time they were being discriminated against by the government because they were denied pensions. The case had originally been thrown out by a tribunal because it was ruled ” out of time”.

However the Supreme Court, in one of the last judgments presided over by Lady Hale overturned this, and said: ” in the context of judicial pensions, a part-time judge may properly complain: during their period of service that their terms of office do not include proper provision for a future pension; and, at the point of retirement, that there has been a failure to make a proper pension available. “

The ruling could cost the government £1 billion.

Then a few days later after a long campaign by the Fire Brigades Union an Employment Tribunal ruled that following the government’s defeat at the Court of Appeal when current cuts in firefighters pensions were ruled as discriminatory the only remedy was that the pension scheme introduced in 2015 to impose such cuts should be scrapped.

The ruling will not only affect 6000 firefighters who would have had to save an extra £19,000 to offset such cuts but also applies to  schemes for the NHS, civil service, local government, teachers, police, armed forces and the judiciary. This will leave the new government with a £4 billion bill.

A triumphant Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said:

“Last Christmas, we gave firefighters the gift of a victory in the courts. This year, firefighters can celebrate knowing that their union has secured their rightful retirement – a gift borne of solidarity that proves what unions can achieve.

“The law has now changed and our FBU claimants will be entitled to return to their previous pension schemes. Legislation will need to be amended, but there can be no delay in implementing this remedy. Firefighters were robbed, and they must now be repaid.

“To the new Tory government, let me be clear. We fought tooth and nail against your attacks on our pensions and won. If you dare to try to pay for these changes by raiding the pensions of current or future firefighters, we will come for you again – and we will win.”

Ministers had spent nearly £500,000 fighting the case which basically left firefighters on a two tier system – with substantially worse conditions for the latest recruits.

In 2015, the Tory-Lib Dem coalition imposed a series of detrimental changes to firefighter pensions, which included a built-in “transitional protection” which kept older firefighters on better pension schemes while younger members were moved onto a new, worse pension scheme, which included a requirement to work until aged 60.

The victory shows once again that the courts can overturn decisions made by governments. Since this applies to workplace pensions rather than the state pension. sadly it is not a parallel case which would bring justice for the 3.8 million women born in the 1950s who have had to wait up to six years for their pensions. But it is another reason for them not to give up hope that they can convince the courts of the justice of their cause.

16 thoughts on “Firefighters and Judges win £5 billion pensions battle with the government

  1. Good for them, I am glad some groups get the justice they deserve. Sadly us 50s women will be having another Christmas in poverty, while the rich get richer. David when should be hear about our appeal? I wish David and all members and their families a Peaceful Christmas.


  2. I sincerely hope 2020 brings a glimmer of hope for all 50’s born women.

    The 50’s women have been on a rollercoaster of emotions through 2019. The judicial review outcome totally demoralised and knocked the stuffing out of a lot of these women. I know my own emotions have been all over the place from hope to despair so I know exactly how they feel.

    We have to keep pushing and believe in justice, far to many people now recognise the injustices done to us. Our case will continue to go round in circles until we get the justice we deserve. Whilst we all pray for full restitution I think we know that may be a bridge to far for the new prime minister. All supporters and groups need to work as one, sitting round a table and working to a satisfactory conclusion on the best way forward for the 50’s women.

    The union’s have battled to right the wrongs of others and quite rightly so, they should be commended for their persistence. Now if the union’s want another gem to sink their teeth into ramp up your support for the 50’s women in 2020.

    I want to thank all our supporters and groups wishing them all a happy Christmas and brighter New Year.

    My biggest wish is for all the 50’s women to have a 2020 that concludes with justice and gives them all their retirement years back.


    Liked by 1 person

  3. Keeping my fingers crossed that the court of appeal will favour us David and thanks again for all you have done and continue to do for us. Have you any idea when this will happen?
    I wish you and the Back to 60 team a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. While I’m on I would like to wish all if the 1950s ladies a very happy Christmas and hope that 2020 will be a more prosperous year for us all 🙂


  4. So what about the 1959s women don’t we deserve our pension which was blantly robbed from us all and out of pocket living on the breadline


  5. Thanks as always for your support and encouragement and clarity in explaining the legal situation, have a good Christmas and please keep up the good work for the 1950s women ‘robbed’ especially those many many women who have no other income at 60+ to rely on

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Fingers crossed our appeal goes ahead early 2020.
    David I thought back in 2018 our case was raised with the ombudsman. What ever happened to that?

    Thanks Dee


  7. Good for them! But little hope of ever getting a court date for those of us without papers….I’m not ‘entitled’ to anything….forced to bludge of relatives who are most likely to die in next year or two….they won’t let me ‘live’ on the streets so it’s either suicide or institution i think.


  8. So glad the justice won out for all of you, I hope with all my ( saddened) heart that you will reach out to 50,s women in their battle to secure what is rightfully ours. The battle has been long and very far reaching in terms of our working life and personal life where, future plans had been made and destroyed. We can never regain those lost 6 years. Well done to you all and have a very happy Christmas.


  9. hang on, so it was judges deciding for themselves whether or not they should get a bigger pension then….? what you think result would be if just firefighters on their own…or another group?


  10. Pingback: Pensions: what's the latest ahead of the budget?

  11. Pingback: Government concede victory to unions over pension discrimination for over 4.1 million public sector workers | Westminster Confidential

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