UK Govt faces action over 'Gurkha plan'
The Govt is facing legal action over alleged plans to cut the pensions of Gurkhas by sacking them before they are due to leave the army.world Updated: Dec 16, 2007 18:00 IST
British government is facing legal action over alleged plans to cut the pensions of Gurkhas by sacking them three years before they are due to leave the army.
The move, which means the Defence Ministry will avoid having to pay an ordinary Gurkha soldier more than 200,000 pounds, is to be challenged in the courts by the British Armed Forces Federation (BAFF).
The policy was introduced after the government was forced to increase the Gurkhas' pay and pensions to bring them on par with the rest of the army.
An official briefing document on the new pension scheme shows that 80 per cent to 85 per cent of Gurkhas will be discharged early, so missing the better payments, The Sunday Times reported today.
They will lose out not only on the immediate pension they would get after 18 years service but also on a lump sum departure payment of the equivalent of three years' pension.
Gurkhas have been put on the new army pension scheme, which applies to all other soldiers, after years of campaigning by their supporters. The full pension will be worth around 6,500 pounds a year for a rifleman, the basic Gurkha rank - plus the one-off departure payment.
In the past, most Gurkhas served only for 15 years, after which they received an immediate pension that was much smaller and worth only about 1,200 pounds a year for a rifleman.
But Gurkhas on the new scheme will now get nothing until they are 65, if the Ministry decides they are among the 80 to 85 per cent who are to be thrown out at 15 years.
For most Gurkhas who join the army at 18, that will deprive them of a total of 32 years' pension money, 208,000 pounds for a basic rifleman, and far more for an NCO.
The briefing document says the army will recruit far too many Gurkhas if they are allowed to serve to the 18-year point, so most will be discharged after 15 years with no immediate pension and no departure payment.
The ready availability of recruits for the Gurkhas among young Nepalese men has led the MoD to decide to discharge older soldiers early rather than cut the number of recruits.
Doug Young, the BAFF chairman said it was staggering that "the MoD should consider reintroducing their discredited manning control policy for anyone, let alone for Gurkha soldiers only.
"This raises several important legal issues, not only racial discrimination, serious as that would be."