18th April 2019
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Protesters feel robbed by state pension changes

Pension age protesters at the ‘wall of women’ event. Photo: Adam Civico

About 30 people gathered at noon on Saturday to protest against state pension changes – and ongoing austerity measures.

The nationwide protest has been triggered by the growing anger linked to the fact that the age women can claim their state pension has been raised.

From left: Janet Ainsworth, Ann Leask and Hayley Leaper at Saturday’s pension protest. Photo: Adam Civico

Women born in the 1950s are among the worst hit. They anticipated being able to retire at 60 but now face an extra six years of work before they get the state pension.

Ann Leask, 63, was among the group that congregated at the Tesco roundabout to demonstrate against the changes. She said: “We have been robbed of six years of our pension and they [the Westminster government] are trying to cut everywhere, childcare and early education. It is all wrong and a step backwards.”

She said she was protesting in the hope the retirement age would be reduced to 62 or 63. Asked if that was realistic, she said: “Not with the way the Tories are spending our money.”

Hayley Leaper, 31, is equally angry. She said: “The government were aware of the ageing population. They were aware the crisis was coming and refused to do anything about it.

“They accepted people paying in [to pensions] but are not prepared to pay out. It’s stealing.”

Fellow protester Sheena McLaughlin-Cook is 65 but is not yet in receipt of a state pension. She said: “I am very disappointed that nobody is paying our pension to us. People like [SNP MP] Mhairi Black have made impassioned pleas … but no action has been taken because we are a small number of people and we are female.”

Ms McLaughliun-Cook believes the gender issue is an important factor. “I believe in equality of men and women but [regarding the pension age] we got jumped up six years in a one-er”. That, she says, is not fair.

Dubbed a “wall of women”, because of the impact the changes have had on women’s pensions, did not stop several men joining the protest. Organiser Janet Ainsworth was delighted to see so many prepared to stand in a downpour to make their point.

She said it was a show of strength and anger from a relatively affluent community. “I’m overwhelmed,” she added. “This is the tip of the iceberg because of how we are feeling.”

• More in next week’s Shetland Times.

Some of those who took part in the ‘wall of women’ protest near the Tesco roundabout in Lerwick. Photo: Adam Civico

About Adam Civico

The Shetland Times editor since October 2012. Born and bred in South Yorkshire, before moving to Shetland I was assistant editor at the Barnsley Chronicle, where my journalism career began. When not editing The Shetland Times I can be found walking or (occasionally) running, enjoying good food, or trying to find the latest Sheffield Wednesday result. Contact me with your news and views about Shetland – a.civico@shetlandtimes.co.uk, on Twitter @adamcivico or telephone 01595 746715.

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7 comments

  1. Steven Jarmson

    Nothing at all to do with austerity.
    This sexist rule was changed years ago. I think it was the government of John Major that changed the rules so women no longer got preferential treatment.
    It was announced very loudly and if these people have failed to plan for retiring on equal terms with men, then its their own fault. Not one of them can claim they didn’t know. Unless they’ve been living in caves.
    Really, it should be us guys down there protesting for decades of lost pensions.
    But, in these days of “feminist” gripe, getting treated equal to men is only what they want when it suits them.

    Reply
  2. alan loughlin

    Men have been discriminated against for decades over pension age, no mention here of that.
    The truth is the changes correct an injustice and have been well publicised for a very long time, if people choose to bury their heads in the sand whose fault is that?
    This protest is a nonsense.

    Reply
    • Suzi Davidson

      I hear what you are saying about men being discriminated against over the years, and i agree with you. However on this occasion it is womens pension funds and retirement age that is being challenged. Men can also protest it is not exclusively for women

      Reply
      • Fraser Cluness

        Why did men have to work longer for their pension as they die first? Is it not fare that we all work the same length of time to get the same money? When I started working I was told I’d retire at 65, now 66 by the time I get there what will it be? We should all be treated the same, so you have to work the same as the men, isn’t that what you want- to all be treated the same regardless on gender?

  3. Brian Smith

    Well done.

    Reply
  4. Clare green

    The “equalization” of pensions was first discussed back in 1987 under the conservative administration in power then. There was a choice, either to put down the retirement for men to 60 or to raise the age of retirement age of women to 65. And of course out of the choice I knew in my heart of hearts what the choice was going to be… it would have made sense for the men’s retirement age to be reduced, releasing jobs for younger people. Instead we now have older people having to hang on to jobs both men and women, also there are now more people in this age range looking for work, perhaps women who have had children who are now grown up. Sadly although there are laws which say age discrimination is illegal, I am sure many looking for work in later life would tell you it certainly doesn’t feel like it. To add to this where the contributions for the state pensions had been lowered but now they have been quietly raised again.

    When I lived in Shetland I was notified that my age for retiring would now be 66 – I never received an official notification when it was put up from 60 to 65. I understand from talking to friends that there were some who have not had notifications. Though there is something that puzzles me. How on earth is my financial situation going to improve by telling me I’m going to have wait longer for my pension, with little chance of employment when there are so many others looking for work.

    Reply
  5. Haydn Gear

    I don’t think it would be too difficult to show that those who devise schemes like unfair pension payments and the sneaky introduction of restrictions are the people least likely to suffer from those rules. They would make every effort to ensure that THEY would not be short changed. It’s common practice for many politicians to be financially well placed so that when their days of “working for the people” draw to a close they can step into directorships and the like and even enjoy a number of jobs. Money ?—— no problem. Pensions? ——sorted. The people? ——- different story.

    Reply

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