Federation expects 'government to clarify pension demands or we start making claims'PFEW ready to strike back if six-point plan not acted on by parliament's summer recess
National leaders of the Police Federation have issued an eleventh-hour ultimatum on the government to act “morally” or face a claims backlash in the protracted dispute over changes to pensions.
MPs were warned today that if they head for their summer holidays without committing to a wholesale solution for the public sector on the issue – the PFEW will strike back with “appropriate” legal claims for past as well as serving officers.
The 120,000-strong membership has formulated a six-point clarion call on concessions and promises expected from a government statement before Parliament recesses on July 25.
It follows Thursday’s Supreme Court ruling on firefighters’ pensions and a meeting of the Pension Scheme Advisory Board yesterday, which had already been scheduled, and was attended by PFEW, Treasury and Home Office officials.
National Chairman John Apter said: “We are sorry that this whole issue has been mired in uncertainty for so long and are acutely aware of the frustration and anger felt by our hard-working and dedicated members.”
Referring to yesterday’s meeting of policing pensions stakeholders, Mr Apter said: “The government would not be drawn into what they were going to do next, or how they would be reacting to the Supreme Court judgement.
“But they said they would release a statement before Parliament’s summer recess begins on July 25. This statement outlining their position cannot come soon enough.
“If their statement does not meet our expectations, then we are prepared to lodge claims on behalf of our membership. That work has already started.”
The Federation is asking for all protections for its members to be retained until 2022, and that affected members must be levelled up to this position.
Mr Apter said: “We also expect government to deliver a commitment to dealing with this through an industrial resolution, that is, addressing pensions across the entire public sector.
“The legal case has been made by the Appeal Court ruling; now is the time for the government to step up and morally do the right thing.”
However, he conceded to members: “We accept that although the federation has always acted in good faith and in line with legal advice received, the way we explained and delivered the decisions we took, and why, were not clear enough.
“This should have been better. We also recognise the anxiety and frustration it has caused but now is the time to steady the ship to get the best possible outcome for our members.
“Yes these have been divisive times, and rifts have been caused among our 120,000-strong membership. The job is hard enough as it is without turning on each other, but we need to heal those rifts now and work together to achieve what we want.”
Mr Apter added that, for clarity, the federation had the following expectations from government that:
- All transitional arrangements were unlawful, but it must not, while addressing that discrimination, introduce other unfairness to our member;
- The Supreme Court decision applies across the public sector;
- Concedes the existing police pensions legal claims;
- Honours the promises made to those nearest retirement, and maintain the arrangements put in place;
- The government must ensure that all those subject to discrimination are remedied appropriate; and
- The remedy must also apply to those who have left the service
Last week the firefighters' union celebrated a major victory after the Supreme Court refused the government's application for permission to appeal a ruling in the Court of Appeal last December over changes made to pensions in 2015.
The Fire Brigades Union took thousands of employment tribunal claims arguing the public sector pension scheme was "substantially worsened" in 2015, and the protection imposed on younger members was unlawful on age, sex and race discrimination grounds.
The case will now be remitted back to an employment tribunal, said the FBU.
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