WASPI: women’s fight for justice

The WASPI campaign (Women Against State Pension Inequality) has been one of the most important campaigns of the last few years.  I have been so inspired by the tenacity and resilience of these women because they refuse to be defeated.  It was their attitude and their fight that prompted me to work with a fellow councillor to bring a WASPI motion before council.  Councillor Paula Boshell, deputy city mayor, proposed the motion and I was the seconder.  This Friday at 4pm I’ll be in Manchester with the WASPI women lighting up the Manchester Town Hall Purple to continue the fight.  If you would like to know more about the event, let me know and I’ll pass on the information.

Here is the speech I gave to second our Motion in support of Women’s State Pension equality:

“Anne Keen was 17 when the Labour Government brought in the equal pay act in 1970. In that year the pay gap was 45%.  It would be a further 25 years before women were allowed to join company pension schemes.

Despite living through a time of inequality for so many women, Anne looked forward to her retirement which she fully expected to begin in 2013.  That was the date she had planned for.  That was the date she expected.  No one had told her any different. No one had told any of the women who were her friends any different.  The prospect of not starting Anne’s pension in 2013 had never entered conversation. Why, because no one had bother to inform Anne and the thousands of women like her about these changes until it was too late to do much about the situation they found themselves in.

Anne Keen was told 13 months before her 60th birthday that she would have to work another four years or claim benefits.  On benefits there would be no additional help coming her way as it would have done if she had a state pension.  There was no free  bus pass, no winter fuel allowance.

She was a woman who always believed in equality but she also believed in fairness.  For her, failing to give adequate notice or to offer help with the transition was deeply unfair. However, she was not the kind of women to stand by while she and others suffered this injustice.  Some women have been driven to thoughts of suicide due to the situation they find themselves in.  Anne went on to start the Women against State Pension Inequality campaign.  It is her and many more feisty women like her we must thank for their tenacity and endurance.  It is their message of unfairness and injustice which has struck a cord with so many people driving them to action.  It is the sense that this situation was so deeply unfair that it led to the creation of the 140 strong All Party Parliamentary Group in which all parties are represented.  It has such a level of cross party support because it is one of those issues you just feel is wrong.  The more deeply the lives and experiences of the WASPI women are understood, your head tells you it is wrong.

For the 3200 women across Greater Manchester that will be affected this year and the estimated two and half million women in the UK who will be affected by 2026, I second this motion.  I ask all those here to support this motion and the hope it will bring to the WASPI women who are continuing their fight for fai