WASPI campaigners protest pension age rises in Cardiff

By Dan Moffat

Campaigners gathered in Cardiff today to protest against the continuation of state pension age rises.

The rally – which was arranged by the 1950s Women of Wales group – was attended by many women who were born in the 1950s, who have claimed the age rise is unfair.

Campaigners sing in protest to the changes

In 2018, the retirement age for women rose from 60 to 65 to match the requirement for men, and will increase to 66 for all men and women later this year.

Almost four million women in the UK have been affected by the changes, with around 300,000 of those living in Wales.

The WASPI (Women Against State Pension Inequality) movement was set up in 2015, and since then a number of similar groups – like the 1950s Women Of Wales group – have been established.

Kay Clarke (right) with ex MEP for Wales Jackie Jones and Vale AM Jane Hutt

Kay Clarke, one of the founding members of the 1950s Women of Wales group, said: “I’ve lost £48,600 in total. That is how much I would have had if I was paid my pension at 60.

“A lot of women didn’t know, some had letters in 2012, I myself had a letter in 2012, but many women had no communication from the Government.”

“It’s a travesty, and the truth of the matter is, we’ve had our pensions stolen.”

Kay says although she knew about the changes, many others didn’t.

Joining the campaigners in front of Cardiff Castle were local MPs and AMs, including Alex Davies-Jones, MP for Pontypridd, who called the changes ‘cruel’.

“My own mother is a 1950s woman and has been cruelly robbed of her pension. Some women have worked through cancer because they’ve been denied their pension, it’s awful,” she said.

Campaigners give a message to PM Boris Johnson (above) while MP for Pontypridd, Alex Davies-Jones, gives her view.
Ales Davies-Jones at the Women of Wales march

In October, campaigners took a case of discrimination to the High Court but lost, with judges saying: “There was no direct discrimination on grounds of sex, because this legislation does not treat women less favourably than men in law.

“Rather it equalises a historic asymmetry between men and women and thereby corrects historic direct discrimination against men.”

The court also rejected that the policy was discriminatory based on age, adding that even if it was “it could be justified on the facts”.

The Campaigners appeal has been successful and will be taken to the Court of Appeal sometime this year.

Sue Donovan is a WASPI woman, and told of her experience and the personal testimonies she has heard.

She said: “I had to give up work to look after my mother who had dementia, I didn’t have time to prepare for that.

“We’ve had a lady recently who was 62 and died of cancer, meaning she didn’t see her pension, and another woman who committed suicide in recent weeks.”

During the election campaign, Prime Minister Boris Johnson told the BBC: “I do sympathise deeply with the Waspi women… but it is very expensive to come up with the solution you want.

“I cannot promise I can magic up that money for you – it is not possible to satisfy all the demands of the WASPI women.”

Also during the campaign, Labour confirmed they would compensate those affected.

Leader Jeremy Corbyn said it was a “moral debt” and admitted – if elected – that the money would come from funds and, if needed, borrowing.

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