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BA pensioners seek to restore RPI link

Captain Cliff Pocock
Image caption Captain Cliff Pocock has been re-elected as an APS trustee

Members of a big BA pension scheme have elected three trustees who have pledged to restore pension increases in line with the retail prices index (RPI).

Two of the new trustees resigned this year over a decision to make future pension payments in line with the consumer prices index (CPI).

CPI typically rises more slowly than RPI and the decision has already cost the pensioners a 1.5% rise this year.

The elections were for three trustees of the Airways Pension Scheme (APS).

The APS trustees were not available for comment.

Renewed pressure

The APS is the older and better funded of BA's two final-salary schemes and was closed to new members in 1984.

The members, who are overwhelmingly retired employees of BA, have been in revolt against the decision of the APS trustee board, in March this year, to start using CPI rather than continue using RPI to revalue pensions each year.

With 18,641 pensioners eligible to vote, Captain Cliff Pocock was re-elected with 8,286 votes, Paul Douglas was elected with 7,080 votes, and Graham Tomlin, who also resigned earlier this year, was re-elected with 7,064 votes.

The turnout in the ballot was 50%.

The election of the three means there will be renewed pressure on the APS board to change its mind and rescind its earlier decision

That would require a rule change, which would have to be supported by eight of the 12-strong board, six of whom are elected by the members.

No going back

In July, the independent chairman of the trustees, Paul Spencer, told mass meetings of the APS pensioners that there would be no reversal of the trustee board's earlier decision to move from RPI to CPI.

He explained that it was required by the rules of the scheme.

These specify that increases will be determined by whichever measure the government chooses to revalue payments in the state pension scheme and the various public sector pension schemes, of which BA used to be one.

This move from RPI to to CPI was announced suddenly by the Chancellor George Osborne in his 2010 Budget and was put into effect at the APS in April this year.

It meant that pensions rose by 3.1% instead of 4.6%.

More to come

The decision of the APS trustees is coming under pressure on other fronts.

A postal ballot of all APS members is being held to vote on a resolution calling on the trustees to change their minds and restore RPI as the measure for uplifting pensions.

Paul Spencer is being challenged to explain exactly where, and when, the trustees decided not to go to the High Court to have their decision in favour of CPI ratified.

And the trustees have been bombarded by hundreds of complaints from pensioners arguing that they are now suffering a quantifiable cash loss as a result of this year's annual rise being 1.5 percentage points lower under the new policy.

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