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Letters—A hard working life, and now my pension has been stolen

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Issue 2676
Raising the state pension age—a ‘cruel injustice’  (Pic: James Ito/Flickr)

This month I will be 62, but there will be no real happy birthday feeling until I am 66.

That’s due to the cruel injustice of the Conservatives raising the state pension age to 66 for women born in the 1950s.

And disappointingly a recent court decision found in the government’s favour.

I get by on £256.90 a fortnight Employment Support Allowance. I have applied for Personal Independence Payment several times and been turned down.

I have several severe health conditions. But to get my benefits I have to attend face to face medical assessments.

To slightly offset the pension theft, this degrading process should cease for women born in the 1950s

My working life has been hard graft—manual employment.

It has been low paid and I’ve often had several part-time jobs in order to make ends meet.

I have often had to battle for my wages and once went through an eight-month legal struggle to get money I was entitled to from an outsourcing cleaning company.

Even though I won at an employment tribunal, I ended up without a job.

I live in social housing for over 50s but do not use the bedroom as it would mean heating another room.

I don’t sleep well anyway, partly due to anxiety about how I will survive until I am 66.

The government says it raised the pension age to ensure equality with men. Why can’t everyone retire at a fair age?

One of the reasons I was looking forward to my state pension is that it would be the most money I will have earned throughout my working life.

Women are often pushed into part-time and low paid work—supermarkets, cleaning, caring and kitchens.

If this government thinks there is equality, it is deluded.

Sonja Molyneux


Labour in Doncaster

There is quite a mixed attitude towards Labour in Doncaster (Socialist Worker, 9 October).

Partly this is because Labour has been in office in the town for most of the last 20 years, and Labour in Doncaster is quite right wing.

A lot of local people see the Labour council as having implemented austerity. And they also view the three Labour MPs as sellouts.

When Jeremy Corbyn first became leader, he addressed a 600-strong rally in Doncaster.

But as time has gone on, attitudes over Brexit have really hardened.

A lot of people say they have no fear of a no-deal Brexit because their lives are already so shit.

And many see Remainers as liberal or middle class. There’s a kind of class instinct to it—some people think that the well off should suffer for once.

The constant smearing of Corbyn has played a part in how people see Labour as well.

And his vacillation over Brexit is a major issue.

Some working class people say they support the Tories. But I think we have to constantly remember the genuine hatred of the Tories that many of them have.

We have to attack the notion that Boris Johnson is a “man of the people” too.

And the issue of trust is important.

Nobody should think Johnson or the Tories can be trusted—everything they say is a lie.

Jim Board

Unison branch secretary, Doncaster (pc)

Let members vote on who leads GMB union

Democracy is the lifeblood of the trade union movement—or at least it ought to be.

So the decision by my union, the GMB, to exclude the only potential challenger to the current general secretary without putting it to the membership is shocking.

Tim Roache, the general secretary is up for re?election. Two other candidates came forward.

One received just two branch nominations and pulled out. Another, Kathleen Walker Shaw, received 57 nominations, from eight out of the nine regions. This meant she qualified to stand.

But then the GMB ruled that Walker was not capable of performing the range of duties required by the post. Walker has worked for the union for 26 years.

I hold no torch for Walker. But surely it should be up to the members to decide. Coronations are for monarchs, not trade unions.

A GMB member

By email

Benefit pledges are a reason for hope

Your report on Jeremy Corbyn’s pledge to scrap Universal Credit (UC) underestimated the scale of the issue by a factor of 1,000 (Socialist Worker, 2 October).

Millions, not thousands, would have cheered that pledge.

Since 2010, 4.5 million benefit sanctions have been dished out, including 32,500 sanctions of three years’ duration.

Wherever UC has been rolled out it has caused increases in foodbank use, sanctions, rent arrears, evictions, and destitution. Around 2.5 million people are already on UC, with another 4.5 million due to have it inflicted on them.

Corbyn also announced that Labour would scrap benefit sanctions, the bedroom tax, work capability assessments, the two child limit and the benefit cap.

These key policy shifts give 7 million people something to vote for and are essential for Labour to win the election.

We can beat the Tories and get rid of UC.

In this pre-election period, posters demanding “Scrap Universal Credit” and “Stop all benefit sanctions now” need to be widely displayed.

Sean McDermott


Unions’ wrong reply on Syria

I was delighted to hear that 13 British trade union secretaries had issued a statement condemning the Turkish invasion of northern Syria. Then I read it.

It attacks the invasion but then says the British government must “work with the international community to deploy an international force and enforce a No-Fly Zone”.

In a region wracked by imperialist intervention, union leaders are calling for more imperialist intervention.

Sally Hughes

West London

Labour & SNP means indyref

The Tories will not allow another referendum on Scottish independence however many people march for it (Socialist Worker, 9 October).

The best hope is to get a government made up of Labour and the Scottish National Party. Jeremy Corbyn would have to agree to a new indyref to be prime minister.

Mary Ford


Otis will need support again

Otis Bolamu is an asylum seeker living in Swansea who was saved from deportation by a big campaign last Christmas.

He is once again under threat of deportation.

Please be ready to stop him being thrown out.

Helen Jones


Joker’s rage pleased me

I’m glad I saw the film Joker (Socialist Worker, 9 October) and would recommend it.

It is an excellent political allegory set in Gotham City in the 1980s but could be anywhere now.

One of the best scenes in the movie is when Joker is advised by his social worker that the people who run society just don’t give a shit about him.

The ending is terrific as the back-stabbers, the cops, the rich and powerful “get what they deserve”—an uprising and more!

Jim Barlow


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