Socialist Worker

Rooker roasted by pensioners

Issue No. 1697

Rooker roasted by pensioners

SOCIAL SECURITY minister Jeff Rooker faced slow hand-clapping and loud booing from 1,000 delegates at the National Pensioners Convention last week. Pensioner Terry Johnson told Socialist Worker, "We roasted him. They give us all these statistics about how much money pensioners are getting, but there are still hundreds of thousands of us on just the basic pension of �67.50 a week."

Molly Harman from Great Yarmouth told Rooker that free TV licences for over-75s are no use because "you might be dead before you get them". Earlier over 1,000 pensioners had marched through the streets of Blackpool on the first day of the convention. Mansfield pensioners expressed a common view: They said, "We've heard their promises before. What we want is a decent pension for all. They must restore the link with earnings broken by Thatcher in 1980." Rodney Bickerstaffe, the former leader of the UNISON union, is taking over from Jack Jones as leader of the Pensioners Convention. He told the delegates, "Restoring the link with earnings should have been done on day one of this government."

It's a loser

THREE QUARTERS of Labour councillors who lost their seats in the May elections believe pensions were the key issue. Many of the councillors contacted by the Times said constituents told them the 75p a week rise was insulting, and that the winter fuel payments and free TV licences were just "patronising charity".

Going down

THE government says the average income for a pensioner is �132 a week for a single person and �258 for a couple. But this is a misleading statistic. It is vastly inflated by the incomes of the top 10 percent of pensioners, who receive on average �720 a week. The real "average" figure puts a single person on �93 a week.

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Sat 20 May 2000, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1697
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