Socialist Worker

‘All pensioners should be treated with respect’

Manchester pensioner John Johnston describes what it’s like to be a pensioner today

Issue No. 1935a

Pensioners protest

Pensioners protest

TALK OF a future pensions crisis makes me angry. The crisis is now and it’s pensioners who are getting a very bad deal. My long time friend Terry is one of those suffering because pensions have been sold off, robbed and devalued. He’s having to try to live on just over £100 a week.

One of the main reasons he’s in this position is that the company he worked for ended its final salary pension scheme. Previous to this it had taken a “holiday” from paying in its contributions to the pension fund.

This meant the company upped its profits but left employees a lot worse off in retirement—something that has happened to thousands of other pensioners.

The closure of the scheme means Terry’s works pension is only half the amount he thought it would be. The small lump sum he was given at retirement has now dwindled to next to nothing.

Terry told me he managed with his small pension “with great difficulty”. No pensioner should be in this position.

He served in the RAF at 18 for three years. Following this he worked in various factory jobs until the 1980s when, thanks to Thatcherism, he lost four jobs in about two years.

After this he worked in the offices of a local company for 20 years until he had to retire at 62 through ill health.

Terry’s retirement has not turned out as he expected. He and his wife hoped to go on quite a few holidays once he retired. They only managed one week away this year.

Paying food, heating and domestic bills comes first. Even then, like millions of other pensioners, he and his wife have to trawl supermarkets for bargains.

They only go out now on a Saturday night and they budget for this every week. Apart from this, football is his passion and with great difficulty he manages a pensioners’ season ticket. Terry loves life—especially spending time with his three grandchildren. Like all pensioners, he should be treated with the respect and dignity he deserves.

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Fri 21 Jan 2005, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1935a
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