The government faces a legal challenge over plans to change the pension scheme of millions of public service workers.
Public sector Unison will seek a judicial review of the government’s decision to end the so-called ‘rule of 85’ which allows some members of the Local Government Pension Scheme to retire at 60 with a full pension, if their age and years of service add up to 85 or more.
A parliamentary statement by the local government minister Phil Woolas said the rule will end on 1 October 2006 to comply with legislation on age discrimination.
But Unison general secretary, Dave Prentis, pointed out: “The law he is referring to does not yet exist. We will mount a legal challenge as we believe the government and the Local Government Association have the law wrong.”
Responding to a claim by Local Government Association chairman Sir Sandy Bruce Lockhart that the changes are “both needed and necessary”, Prentis said: “These imposed changes are an attack on pension scheme members.
“They have paid 6% of their salary all their working lives. They’re not responsible for the state of the pension schemes. Why should our members pay for the mistakes of others?”
Prentis said the union was asking for local government workers to be treated the same as other public-sector workers who have their existing pension rights protected.
Today’s parliamentary statement said draft regulations will “shortly” be circulated for a statutory 12-week consultation.
Activists representing members in the scheme – which includes police and university staff, among others – meet tomorrow (6 December) and the union will then consider any further response.