Public sector unions lose appeal on index switch for pensions

Unions representing millions of public sector workers have lost their Court of Appeal battle against a government decision to change the way pension increases are calculated.

Three appeal judges refused to overturn a High Court majority ruling from December 2011, which backed the government’s approach.

The case relates to the government’s decision to switch to the consumer prices index (CPI) from the retail prices index (RPI) to measure price increases influencing pension upgrades.

The switch was originally announced by Chancellor George Osborne in the June 2010 Budget.

Unions, including the GMB, Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union, Unison and Unite, challenged the High Court ruling, stating that the switch from RPI to CPI is not permitted under social security legislation.

Brian Strutton, national secretary for public services at GMB, said: “When the government announced out of the blue in 2010 that it was downgrading the annual up-rating of public sector pensions from RPI to CPI, the GMB and other unions challenged the legality in the courts.

“Unfortunately, the courts seem to take the view that the government can do what it likes even if this amounts to taking money off pensioners just because they used to work in the public sector. It is not right and together with the other unions we will be considering the grounds for appeal.”

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