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LETTERS – Robbed by pension change, but women are fighting back

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Issue 2665
Women are fighting against pension inequality
Women are fighting against pension inequality (Pic: James Ito/Flickr)

Many women are taking part in the “We paid in you pay out” campaign on Facebook and protests around the country.

They have virtually been ignored by the media.

Women born in the 1950s are struggling to manage due to changes in retirement age.

Many are not receiving their pensions as expected at the age of 60 and have had no time to make alternative plans.

Many women have to either manage on virtually no money or continue working into our mid-60s and beyond.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) said letters were sent out warning us of these changes. But not one person received any notice! Iain Duncan Smith, when secretary of state, said that these women would go away.

Well, we have not gone away and we are fighting to rightly receive what we paid in for all our working lives.

We were promised when we started working, in my case at the age of 16, that we would retire with our pensions at 60.

Where has the money gone that we and our employers paid in?


That money does not belong to the government—for them to dip their sticky fingers into our pension pot is theft.

Some women in their 60s are having to decide between eating a sandwich or having electricity on. As one of the most wealthy countries in the world, MPs should hang their heads in shame.

We already have the lowest pensions in the whole of Europe.

Some of us are not in good health and are unable to work even part time.

I have a life-limiting illness, so might not live to receive a penny of what is rightfully mine.

Where has the money from those who died before reaching pension age disappeared to?

There should be an excess amount in the pot, not a deficit.

There are several groups that are growing every day fighting to end this injustice.

Carole, By email

Mann has a vile record

In one of her final acts as prime minister Theresa May appointed right wing Labour MP John Mann as “independent” adviser to the government on antisemitism.

Not only is Mann providing cover for the architects of the “hostile environment”, this episode is the latest in a long line of right wing interventions.

In 2013, Mann was a witness in an action against the UCU union over its support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign, which Mann declared to be antisemitic.

The tribunal dismissed the case. It said Mann “clearly enjoyed making speeches” but seemed unable to “explain what the [union’s] antisemitic behaviour was supposed to have consisted of”.

In 2016 he attacked Labour’s Ken Livingstone as a “Nazi apologist”.

In 2014 Mann and others wrote to Labour leader Ed Milliband blaming European Union migrants for “pressure on wages, welfare, housing and public services”.

Mann will no doubt use the opportunity to further his attacks on Labour and Palestinian solidarity.

He will ignore the Tories’ partnership with parties rehabilitating wartime collaborators in the Holocaust. Mann will work alongside Lord Pickles.

As Conservative chair, Pickles defended the annual commemoration of the Latvian Waffen SS by the For Fatherland and Freedom party.

Many of the Latvian Waffen SS were veterans of pro-Nazi death squads who took part in the Holocaust.

Rob Ferguson, East London

Don’t apologise to hypocrites in media

The recent week of rebellion in Bristol organised by Extinction Rebellion (XR) saw significant mobilisations highlighting the increasing threat of climate change.

Many workshops discussed different aspects of climate change including a very successful one around building for strikes on 20 September.

It also included direct action by “swarming” and road blocking. The numbers involved were impressive and the atmosphere was of determination to build a movement to challenge the system that delivers environmental destruction.

It did see perhaps for the first time a backlash from local media and political figures. Media outlets used a case where a person couldn’t get to the bedside of his father before he passed away as a means to attack the whole action.

Mayor Marvin Rees, while saying some warm words, also criticised the action by XR. The hypocrisy of the media was not lost on many people.

When is Richard Branson hauled up to be blamed when his trains fail to arrive on time or when private bus operators don’t run unprofitable routes and price people off public transport?

Compared to the destruction of climate change the attack is a sick joke. However it made some in the movement defensive and some spokespeople for XR apologised.

While understandable in terms of the pressure being applied to individuals it was a mistake. All movements that challenge the power of those at the top face ideological attacks and the lesson from the past is—don’t give an inch.

This doesn’t mean one can’t discuss the suitability of strategy and tactics and this was being done in many large XR meetings across Bristol this week.

In the central branch around 170 people met and the mood was defiant and also that we needed to be seen to target the corporations and institutions of the wealthy who are responsible and be seen to do so.

The point about the vital part the global strike on the 20th September can make to widen the movement was very well received.

Huw Williams, Bristol

Brighton strike showed mood for climate action

About 300 school students assembled in central Brighton last Friday for the sixth student climate strike this year.

The march had only just set off when protesters sat down in the main traffic artery and blocked the road for 20 minutes.

At a rally, students spoke from different schools.

An Indonesian student deplored the dumping of plastic waste in her country by Western nations.

The last speaker reminded strikers of the call for a nationwide strike on 20 September. They urged everyone to build for the biggest stoppage possible.

Earlier, a UCU union member had told students about a motion calling for a general strike over climate change that will be debated by the TUC in September.

They received enthusiastic applause.

Steve Guy, Brighton

Not fooled by the coppers

i read Alistair Farrow’s article on police violence (Socialist Worker, 17 July).

When I was at junior school in the 1970s, the teachers got us to write what we thought of the police.

One kid wrote, “Police is bastards.”

The teachers organised visits by local coppers, who drove people round in police cars and let them use walkie talkies.

At the end the teachers asked us to write what we thought of the police again.

The same child wrote, “Police is cunning bastards.”

Will Counsel, Peterborough

One of Boris Johnson’s first announcements was that he is going to put thousands more cops on the streets of London.

That will be even more people to harass, assault and kill black people.

It means we are less safe, not safer.

Alicia Mount, South London

Cartoons can shame system

Thanks to Tim Sanders for his revealing and thoughtful letter on the threat to political cartoons (Letters, 24 July).

Once again the Guardian newspaper has disgraced itself with its censorship of Steve Bell, whose cartoons I have appreciated for 40 years.

In the current era, we need more, not less, cartoons that can cut through the hypocrisy and shine a bright light on the reality of this out of control capitalist world!

John Murphy, Stockport

Climate chaos is with us now

Your article on the heatwave last week exposed how rubbish the system is (Socialist Worker online, 25 July).

It’s a disgrace that so little attention is given to making sure that things such as transport and water supplies can cope with a changing climate.

Climate chaos isn’t a threat in the future, it is here already.

Claire Tasher, Liverpool

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