Unions lose redundancy pay case

The two largest Civil Service unions have lost their High Court challenge to a scheme which will reduce benefits paid to members on redundancy and early retirement.

The Public and Commercial Services Union, which has 270,000 members, and the Prison Officers' Association, which has a membership of 35,000, called for a judicial review of a December 2010 decision by the Minister for the Civil Service to amend the Civil Service Compensation Scheme, which applies to more than 600,000 public servants.



At a hearing last month, lawyers told Mr Justice McCombe that, because rights to certain redundancy terms had accrued through length of service, they were classed as a "possession" in human rights law and should not be "interfered with" unless there was an over-riding public interest.



But today, the judge, sitting in London, dismissed the claim and said the new scheme was valid.



He concluded that, while the benefits under the old scheme were possessions within the meaning of the European Convention, and the changes did amount to interference, this was justified.



He said: "First, the interference must be in accordance with law which itself must be accessible, precise and foreseeable in application.



"Secondly, the interference must be in pursuit of a legitimate aim in the public interest and, thirdly, it must strike a fair balance between the persons affected and the community as a whole.



"The individuals affected must not be required to bear a disproportionate or excessive burden."



The only question was whether the Minister had shown that the interference with scheme members' rights was a proportionate one within the limits of what could be afforded.



The judge said that he bore in mind that the scheme and payments made under it were designed to plug a gap between employments or between leaving the service and full retirement.



To this extent, they were "weaker" than pension rights which afforded financial protection for many years and into old age and had a transfer value, such as on divorce.



"Salary and pension benefits remain unaffected. The rights of scheme members have not been eliminated by the new scheme; they have been reduced in a manner designed to spread the burden fairly among all civil servants."



He said it was not contested that the new scheme, which was accepted by four unions, was still relatively favourable to departing employees when compared with statutory terms and the terms customarily on offer in the private sector and other public sector employments.



In his judgment, the reduction in benefits was "reasonable and commensurate" and the interference did not go beyond what was "reasonably necessary" to achieve the legitimate aim recognised on both sides - reduction of the national budget deficit.









Later, Hugh Lanning, deputy general secretary of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS), said: "We are pleased the judge agreed with our central argument that existing rights to redundancy pay should not be taken away without consent, but naturally disappointed he ruled he could not interfere in the Government's economic policies.



"We are taking further legal advice, but this case was only ever one strand of our opposition, and we are committed to carrying on the fight both industrially and politically."



PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: "Despite the ruling, it still cannot be right that low and modestly paid public servants are being forced to pay for the economic crisis with their jobs, their pay and their pensions.



"Our members were on strike on June 30 alongside teachers and lecturers, and we are talking to them and other unions about stepping up industrial action in the autumn if the Government refuses to halt its unnecessary and deeply damaging spending cuts."

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Administrative Assistant / Order Fulfilment

£14000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join a thrivi...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

Recruitment Genius: Production Operative

£13000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to a period of sustained an...

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there