Workers' Weekly On-Line
Volume 50 Number 36, September 19, 2020 ARCHIVE HOME JBCENTRE SUBSCRIBE

The Fight to Safeguard Pensions

Once Again, the State and Courts Attack Women's Rights

The Court of Appeal on the morning of September 15 ruled against the BackTo60 group over pensions. Up until 2010, women received their state pensions at the age of 60, but since that time, the government has been raising the pension age. BackTo60 has been campaigning to have compensation paid to 3.8m women born in the 1950s. The Court of Appeal has now backed a previous High Court judgment and rejected claims that the increase in the state pension age affecting women born in the 1950s was discriminatory.

The senior justices said: "Despite the sympathy that we, like the members of the Divisional Court (High Court), feel for the appellants and other women in their position, we are satisfied that this is not a case where the court can interfere with the decisions taken through the parliamentary process."

They said that "in the light of the extensive evidence" put forward by the government, they agreed with the High Court's assessment that "it is impossible to say that the government's decision to strike the balance where it did - between the need to put state pension provision on a sustainable footing and the recognition of the hardship that could result for those affected by the changes - was manifestly without reasonable foundation".

UNISON assistant general secretary Christina McAnea said: "For a generation of women, this is nothing short of a disaster. Raising the state pension age with next to no notice has had a calamitous effect on their retirement plans.

"Those on lower incomes have been left in dire straits, struggling to make ends meet with precious little support from the government. It's now time MPs intervened to give them the financial help many so desperately need."

In July, DWP lawyers lost a legal bid to declare the case unlawful. The campaign has been supported by trade unionists who, during the summer, crowd-funded a film to raise money.

Julie Delve and Karen Glynn, the two claimants who originally brought the case, were in court last June when they told a judicial review that when they had not received their state pension at the age of 60, their lives had been affected disproportionately. They argued that when the government had introduced the increase of the pension age, it was discriminatory. The workplace was less equal for many of this generation who were taking time out to raise children, they could not save very much in occupational pensions, so the change has hit them hardest.

The women's judicial review took place in June 2019 but a High Court found against the claimants in October 2019 and the two women have now had their case rejected at the Court of Appeal.

The complementary campaign Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) is preparing for future human rights legal battles in Europe.

Once again women in their long battles for justice must continue with their struggle. Campaigners say their fight is not over. Joanne Welch, founder and director of BackTo60, said she would now consider taking the case to the Supreme Court and would also draft legislation to bring a women's Bill of Rights.

Women are standing firm and with courage and conviction aiming to push forward to a favourable conclusion against the discriminatory ruling and judgement, as part of the fight to safeguard and defends the pensions of all.


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