Unions welcome Court of Appeal ruling against BT on pensions

Unions have welcomed the Court of Appeal’s decision to rule against BT over changes to the pensions of more than 80,000 workers.

BT had asked the Court of Appeal to overturn an earlier High Court ruling on BT’s interpretation of pension scheme rules and on whether it should be allowed to switch to a different cost of living index for calculating increases to pensions in the future.

The company argued it should be able to decide to switch from the Retail Prices Index to another measure, such as the Consumer Prices Index (CPI), for calculating increases to pensions for Scheme C members. Moving to the CPI would produce lower increases for members.

However, the Court of Appeal dismissed BT’s claim, concluding that the Scheme rules had been interpreted correctly in the earlier ruling which found that the RPI had not become an inappropriate measure for the purposes of uprating pensions. As a result it is currently not possible for BT to change from RPI to another index.

BT is now considering whether or not to seek a further appeal.

CWU national officer Nigel Cotgrove said: “The CWU welcomes the Court of Appeal decision which will come as a great relief to Section C members. We are disappointed that BT is now considering a further appeal as this keeps the issue alive when any change to CPI would take money from current and future pensioners.”

Prospect national secretary Noel McClean said: “We welcome the Appeal Court’s decision to uphold the original High Court ruling.

“BT was seeking to cut the future incomes of BT pensioners and current employees by tens of thousands of pounds in order to transfer an estimated £2bn to shareholders, and Prospect does not believe this was acceptable.

“Only last week the High Court prevented BT from attempting to cut the benefits of 8,000 people in Section B of the same pension scheme, albeit using a different mechanism. Prospect welcomes both rulings, which protect the interests of employees rather than shareholders.”

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