BFAWU supports WASPI

WASPI guide to stolen state pensions: did you know?

I will begin by showing my horror at a statement you made in the house regarding 50’s women reaching 60 could always take up apprenticeships, this is distasteful and insulting, we women in our 60’s have had a life of learning, not necessarily academia, passing exams, learning a trade, we have waded through everything that life has thrown at us, we’ve done our apprenticeship of life, what do we really need to learn, is it really necessary to begin learning a new trade at 60+? I will continue on the lines of learning, this idea that we women have to go on training courses, work experience in places like B & M working the same hours, doing the same job as paid workers, ‘learning’ what we already know, we have experience coming out of our ears, we could teach these youngsters who are in charge a thing or too, this is so degrading.

I am really concerned that women of the 50’s are not being treated with the respect they so deserve, life was different when we were younger, we went straight into work, university was for the elite, the working class just got on with the shop jobs, low level office workers, factory workers (when this country actually manufactured goods) in the 70’s we were strong enough to fight and achieve equal rights for semi-skilled women workers (still discrimination rears its ugly head 40 odd years later) When we married, we looked after the husband, we looked after the house and continued working until the children came along, we couldn’t afford nannies, child care, we washed by hand until we could afford automatic washing machines. We took part-time jobs when the husband got home.

So, reading the above you can appreciate how difficult it would have been to enter into a workplace pension, we were not invited, we didn’t earn enough. We didn’t get promotion for the ‘bosses jobs’ they were for men, we knew our place. But that didn’t matter because we’d paid our dues, we paid our contributions when we worked and our husbands paid their dues too to cover the time we were not earning enough to do so, this is what the National Insurance was about in those days, we paid in, we were policy holders, but it seems that now we reach our 60’s the rug has been pulled from under our feet and we have a 6 YEAR delay before we can collect our pensions.

We are all in favor of equalization but you have to take it retrospectively, we weren’t treated equally in our working life and we can’t agree that to make things equal we have to suffer, in fact this is discrimination if one sector of the public is treated differently, we are being treated differently to the women who entered into pensionhood at the time it was agreed when we joined the scheme, we are being treated differently to men with an EXTRA 6 years to wait for our pension while they have and extra 1 year.

When we joined this compulsory scheme and became policy holders of this insurance, the rules were that we paid a percentage of our wages, our employers paid a percentage of our wages to government, and in return the contributions entitled us to a pension at 60 and other benefits.

The pension age was changed in the 1940’s because government felt it was unfair on married men to wait until their spouse reached retirement age, especially as, in general, men married women several years their junior’, still do, so nothing has changed on that score. Government also felt that women were, in general, more tired as they not only worked but also kept home, looked after the husband and the children. Men went to work, came home to a meal, the shopping, the washing, the ironing was all done, they could sit and read the newspaper while the wife either went off to work or continued their work in the home. Nothing had changed on this score, when we joined this insurance scheme, except the conservatives changed the rules and Ken Clarke refrained from making an announcement in 1993 because he felt “it would be unpopular with women” successive governments failed to communicate any changes with the policy holders, and policy holders were never given the chance to discuss the issue with the pension providers.

The Cridland report actually states that “What happened to 1950’s women must never be repeated” Steve Webb a previous pensions minister realized the error and confronted David Cameron, to no avail, Ros Altmann another previous pensions minister said government had failed us 50’s women, Richard Harrington another previous pensions minister said he “knows there is something wrong” there is a cross party committee who also think there is something wrong. Cridland and the Pensions Advisory Service both state that any changes to pension should be relayed to those affected and given 10 years notice for every year delay in paying pension. This wasn’t the case when it comes to 50’s women.

Being accused of ‘breezing through like’ by Stephen Crabb another previous pensions minister is yet another insult and when he continues to say we “should have checked our pension age” I ask, Why should we, the women’s pension age of 60 was an ongoing law from the 1940’s, the age women could retire when we joined the system was 60, why should we even question this? If we join computer insurance, we pay in and we expect to be paid out if there is an issue under the terms and conditions, what is different with the pension scheme we paid into?

Instead of insulting us by telling us there is a generous welfare system we can apply for if we don’t have work, under the sanctioning rule of JSA/ESA/UC, hour upon hour of job search for jobs that we can’t do as our bodies are giving up, jobs where we’re unwanted because we’ve passed our sell by dates, or expecting us to take apprenticeships. Give us our pensions at the age agreed when we joined the scheme, we did our bit, our employers did their bit, now it’s time to honour your side of the agreement as we have done for 45 years and continue to do so for those of us lucky enough to still be employment. Some women have given 51 years of contributions to the system that they believed would provide them with a pension at the time agreed when they began paying. We’re not asking for a handout, we are claiming what we have paid in, our right to a pension at the agreed age when we began paying.

It’s strange because we hear varying stories of why we can’t have our pension at 60, the European law for one, the UK had to equalize pension age, well this isn’t true is it, because Poland have recently reduced women’s pension age back to 60, we are free to choose our pension laws, affordably is another reason, yet we have already paid, our employers have already paid, and money can be found from the ‘magic money tree’ when it suits the government as has been demonstrated recently with money for HS2, Trident, DUP to name just three, oh and then we mustn’t forget the conservatives fear of the ‘sudden rise in life expectancy’, which actually isn’t happening at all, it is in decline. So there really are no reasons to deny us our pension at the agreed age of 60 when we joined the scheme.

I think you might also be forgetting the fact that women who married in the 70’s were given, by their employers, the leaflet NI1 to read, it makes interesting reading as it explains that we had a choice of continuing to pay the standard rate which entitles us to pension at 60 in our right, or pay a significantly smaller amount and give up this right and wait until our husbands reached pension age before we could collect.

You may also be forgetting that these same women had to sign a contract to the effect of the above; I signed my CF9 to the affect that I would continue to pay the standard rate purely because of the pension issue. I kept my side of the contract; government is in breach of contract by delaying my pension 6 years. 
Not only are government in breach of contract in respect of the above, but they are also in breach of contract and stand accused of mal-administration as they failed to notify those affected, although I receive my self-assessment in every location I have lived and national insurance demands too.

 I NEVER received any notification of any changes, and although government would like us believe that the change of pension age was announced in newspapers, I think they might be forgetting where these announcements were, they were buried in the financial pages of the broad sheet newspapers, tell me where these announcements were in the tabloids? We certainly never saw them, if we had, you can guarantee that we would have been hitting the streets in protest then, why do you think we have suddenly taken this issue to the streets?

 We were NEVER informed of any change, that’s why. I know government would also like us to believe that they have made transitional changes, and they like to repeat the mantra that we only have an extra 18 months to wait for our pensions, this is certainly not true. This simply refers to the 2011 pension act, again no-one was informed of this either.

Bang to rights, the government has failed us women of the 50’s. We are seeing such hardship in over 60’s, women are going to foodbanks for crying out loud, these women have done the right thing, they’ve looked after their families, they’ve worked, they’ve paid their dues, is this really the right way to treat us? Women have become homeless, one woman living in a tent in her bedroom trying to keep warm last winter unable to afford any heating, fears for this coming winter.

We women of the 50’s are hard workers, are reliable, volunteer, look after our own grandchildren, we’re accused of job-blocking, as those of us who can, continue to work, while the youngsters cannot find work to feed their own families. Tell me is this right? We’ve paid our dues, let the youngsters stand on their own two feet, gain some self-respect from working to feed their families, to contribute to the health service, to their time of retirement or sickness.
We’re not the baby boomers portrayed by government and the media, we’ve worked hard, we still do, in and out of the home, we care for our elderly parents, our siblings, our partners, we’re not the scroungers we’re portrayed to be, we’ve paid, you pay out.

Article by Trish Alderson