Perhaps this could lead to the end of TA soldiers (and their RNR and RAuxAF counterparts) being classed as "casual labour".
I am amused by the MoD claim that part-time soldiers do not pay contributions as full-time soldiers do. A bare-faced lie. The regular daily rate is paid pro-rata according to days served.Part-time soldiers take on the MoD over pension rights
Henry McDonald, Ireland editor
Sunday December 31, 2006
A test case in Northern Ireland involving the pension rights of up to 1,000 part-time soldiers could cost the Ministry of Defence tens of millions of pounds.
If the troops from the soon-to-be disbanded Royal Irish Regiment win their legal fight for a pension, then Territorial Army soldiers will be entitled to the same rights.
The soldiers, based in Northern Ireland, are challenging their exclusion from military pension schemes, citing a new EU directive that gives pension entitlements to part-time workers. Dozens of cases will be heard in early 2007 in Belfast.
Lagan Valley Democratic Unionist MP Jeffrey Donaldson, whose younger brother Kingsley is a full-time RIR soldier and who has served in Iraq, is championing their cause. Donaldson agreed that, if the soldiers were successful, then it would have implications for TA pensions rights.
'I suppose that is why the MoD is vigorously defending its policy. They don't want the TA to get pension rights. But there are sound legal and moral reasons why the part-timers of the RIR should get pensions.
'On the legal front they are taking the cases under the EU directive. They will argue that they can be classified as part-time workers too. Morally the government and the MoD owe these soldiers a great debt. They served in the most dangerous part of Europe as British soldiers and because they lived and worked in the community they were more vulnerable to murder by terrorists. The soldiers who held down day jobs while serving in the regiment were the most vulnerable of all.'
Donaldson said the test cases might also allow former part-time soldiers in the Ulster Defence Regiment, disbanded in July 1992, to sue for retrospective pension rights.
An MoD spokesman said the ministry could not comment on the case, for legal reasons. However, it is understood the MoD will oppose pension rights for part-time soldiers on the grounds that while in the RIR they did not pay contributions like full-time troops did.
Three of the four RIR battalions, 3,500 troops, are to be disbanded under the government's plans to demilitarise Northern Ireland. The part-time RIR troops will officially lose their jobs today. As part of their retirement package they are being given a tax-free sum of Â£14,000 each. The full-time soldiers will leave the regiment with a Â£28,000 tax-free retirement package, plus their pensions.