UK - Former Barking and Dagenham council workers have won their protracted legal battle over the withdrawal of pension awards for long service.
Former employees or their spouses had their pensions cut three years ago after the town hall’s auditors claimed long service awards payments could not be used when calculating pensions benefits.
But public sector Unison successfully brought a test case on behalf of one employee to the High Court. It ruled that the council should pay both backdated arrears and interest to all 178 pensioners.
Unison had already sought a test case for another ex-Barking and Dagenham employee with the pensions ombudsman in 2002.
The ombudsman found that the council had committed maladministration in freezing the payments but added that each case should be viewed on its individual merits.
The council’s long service review panel has looked at each of the 178 cases following the High Court ruling and decided to pay out on all of them.
Panel chairwoman Val Rush said the local authority had always had the pensioners’ best interests at heart.
She said: “We ensured we kept the pensioners fully informed on any action we had to or chose to take, and maintained a positive relationship with the Pensioners Action Group throughout the last three years.”
Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said the case would help protect public sector pensions and restore faith in them.
“It sends out a clear warning to auditors who seem to be conducting witch hunts against pension rights that they cannot get away with it,” he added.
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