About 150 former government workers gathered outside the legislature yesterday to protest clawbacks in their pension benefits.

The retirees are upset about losing annual cost of living indexing, which is replaced by 1.25 per cent raises for five years. After that point the raises will only continue if the plan is fully funded.

The group plans a legal challenge to the changes.

Finance Minister Graham Steele said the changes are “difficult but necessary.”

“There is a substantial unfunded liability in the plan. The longer we put it off, the more difficult the problem becomes,” he said of the 69 per cent funded plan. “Our objective here is to make the plan better and stronger so it’s there for pensioners far into the future.”

Steele said government lawyers believe the changes are completely legal.

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