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FBU taking employers to court over withheld pensions


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The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has launched High Court legal proceedings in a bid to force fire and rescue authorities (FRAs) to finally hand back retired firefighters their full pensions, pensions to which they are entitled.

In December 2018 the Court of Appeal ruled that firefighters were entitled to return to their previous pension schemes, after discriminatory 2015 pension reforms drawn up by the coalition government saw individuals moved from their original pension scheme onto a new but worse scheme.

This ruling should have seen fire and rescue authorities address first the cases of those who have already retired, such as those who had left work on grounds of ill-health – hundreds of individuals who are suffering an immediate detriment.

However, fire and rescue authorities lodged an appeal at an Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT), which was heard in December 2020, arguing that they were not responsible for the age discrimination identified in the reforms. In February 2021, the EAT ruled that fire and rescue authorities have no defence for their in-action and must pay up.

Now, after fire and rescue authorities gave no indication that they would adhere to the latest EAT ruling the FBU has issued further legal proceedings on behalf of three retired firefighters, who have been left thousands of pounds worse off, to set a legal precedent for the treatment of hundreds of other retired members.

For each of the cases below, the FBU is demanding that the individual employers (FRAs) ensure full compensation is paid, putting the individuals on par with what they would have received in the previous 1992 pension scheme, as the court has instructed them to do.

The FBU says it will take legal action against every employer on behalf of each and every member if outstanding cases are not resolved immediately. The union says it will then recover all of its legal costs.

Retired London firefighter Glen Richmond said: “I have spent the last five years chasing money owed to me, which has not only caused me great financial distress, but taken a severe toll on my mental health.

“I was in a pension scheme that I thought was going to keep me secure into my later years, but I was given no choice but to accept being put onto a significantly worse scheme which has left me needing to apply for financial support from charities.

“Myself, and hundreds more like me who have retired after spending decades serving their communities deserve better than to have first the government and now our former employers try and at times succeed in destroying our retirement – they need to pay up now.”

FBU general secretary Matt Wrack, said: “It is an absolute disgrace that 5 years after proving that the coalition government pension reforms were discriminatory, that we are still standing here, with retired firefighters still being denied what they are entitled to.

“Many of those already retired will have done so because of physical or mental injury and it is astonishing that fire and rescue service employers see fit to try and throw them and their families on the scrap heap.

“To subject these firefighters to financial hardship when the courts have repeatedly told the employers to pay the retired firefighters what they are owed really is a dreadful way to treat people who have spent their lives protecting their communities.

“Firefighters earnt these pensions and deserve every penny, and we won’t stop until each and every case is resolved.”

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