UNISON puts its weight behind BackTo60 women’s pensions campaign

L-R: Alan Fox, Unison’s national pensions officer; Jackie Jones, Labour MEP for Wales; Sian Stockham, senior vice president Unison and Gloria Mills, national secretary, equalities,Unison.

UNISON is putting its weight behind the campaign for full restitution of the state pension to 3.8 million women born in the 1950s.

The women, supported by BackTo60, lost their pension after the pension age was raised from 60 to 66. Some of them are facing up to a six year wait. Many are in poverty, some have had to sell their homes and others are struggling to work suffering from health problems.

They are awaiting the result of a judicial review brought by BackTo60 represented by Michael Mansfield to see if they have won their case – following the success of union action which has seen firefighters, the police and judges win their pension cases at the High Court.

UNISON’s national equalities secretary Gloria Mills backed the campaign group after meeting BackTo60 organiser
Joanne Welch.

The union is supporting a Parliamentary motion signed by 190 MPs from all parties calling on the government to agree to full restitution of their pensions – using a special temporary measure to compensate the women under the UN Convention for the Elimination of All Discrimination against Women – CEDAW – which the UK ratified in 1986.

It is same process that allowed the Labour Party to introduce all women short lists for MPs to improve women’s representation in Parliament.

Gloria Mills said: “UNISON has over one million women members and quite a number have been affected by the raising of the pension age for women to 66 – having to work longer under difficult circumstances.”

Gloria and UNISON senior vice president Sian Stockham recently took a letter to Downing Street alongside Labour MEP for Wales Jackie Jones and BackTo60 pressing the women’s case. Gloria also raised the issue to loud applause during a debate at last week’s TUC.

Next week the union will be distributing leaflets backing the cause and putting their case at a fringe meeting at the Labour Party conference.

Successive governments have put up the pension age – starting with a decision by Peter Lilley, the social security secretary, in John Major’s Tory government, in 1995. Since 2010 the proposals have been implemented and the pension age was increased to today’s 66 by the Tory-Liberal Democrat coalition.

Governments have argued there is no money to pay pensions for women at 60 and increasing longevity makes this difficult. But a decision by the Thatcher government in 1988 to end the contribution to the National Insurance Fund from the Treasury set up by Beveridge has starved the fund of £271 billion over 24 years and longevity has stalled since 2011 – and actually fallen in poorer areas of the country including north of Glasgow and Blackpool.

Gloria Mills says full restitution for this particular group – which includes UNISON members – is the only
way forward.

Joanne Welch said:” We are delighted that UNISON is supporting us and wants full restitution.”

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6 thoughts on “UNISON puts its weight behind BackTo60 women’s pensions campaign

  1. In other countries, Union support has led to politicians changing the pension age back down to a reasonable figure, so thank you. Don’t forget women born in 1960s also suffered a 7 year rise with no notice at the time and insufficient time to save in a personal pension (even if that was possible which it isn’t unless you’re in a well paid, full time job for years and years)!

  2. Thank you. I have worked since I was 15 and paid into my pension expecting to receive it at 60. My Pension was mine, not a benefit. I am working 12 hour shifts for the Emergency Services while suffering from Fibromyalgia, Arthritis, and PTSD following the suicide of my Daughter. I live in Social Housing, I cannot afford to run a car and I live in a village without a bus service. My life is hard. I should be living comfortably now and able to travel to my Son in the RAF and Grandchildren as often as I would like to.
    I am a member of Unison and I am grateful for your support in fighting for my pension which has been stolen from me.
    We paid in You pay out!

  3. This should also apply to women born in the sixties. We are also facing hardship and having to work another 7 years before getting our state pensions. I and many millions like me born in 1960’s have already contributed 43 years by the time we get our state pensions (if we live that long) we will have contributed 51 years. This is so wrong!

  4. Hurrah! Great news. I was born in October 1954 started work at 15 and have worked ever since with a couple of breaks, in between to help bring up my family. I ve paid into the pot and stuck religiously to my side of the bargain, paying tax and a full stamp also my NI.
    Sometimes I have had two or
    three jobs when I was divorced from my first husband to help make ends meet!!
    I couldn’t wait for retirement at 60 as promised along with my state pension. I would do more walking join an art class spend time with my Grandchildren have little holidays with my now husband ahh life would be great and I was so tired.
    Sadly and without prior warning, I didn’t receive a letter – it wasn’t the case I now have to wait until I reach 66 (I will be 65 next month)!!
    I had to have a pacemaker fitted last year because I collapsed on the kitchen floor my husband has had 2 maybe 3 heart attacks (doctors are unsure) he also suffers from epilepsy and we both work full time!!!
    Sorry if this sounds like I’m having a winge but, actually, I am because I’m so physically tired and can’t now wait until next year, if I last that long, and, more importantly, if the government don’t move the goal posts again!!! Thanks for you very welcome support.

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