This story first appeared on Kent Live on 19th July 2016.
WASPI, the Women Against State Pension Inequality Campaign, attended a council meeting at Thanet District Council on Thursday, July 14.This was a turning point for WASPI, who unanimously gained the Council’s support in lobbying the Government.
Their ultimate aim is to “achieve fair transitional state pension arrangements for women born in the 1950s”.
The meeting’s purpose was to put forward a motion to the district councillors in order to unite all parties in fighting for women’s fair treatment. Councillor Jennifer Matterface put the motion forward and Councillor Karen Constantine seconded it.
Councillor Karen Constantine, 54, a strong supporter of WASPI, said: “We think the government could have done much more for women. Last night was about raising awareness. We want to ensure that the 13 thousand women affected in Thanet know about this issue. But we also want people to know that this affects everyone, not just women.
“These women are the backbone of society. But they don’t earn as much as men and, because of the increase in pension age, they are pushed into temporary, insecure and low paid jobs. I knew that my pension age was going to be 67 but these women were never properly notified of the changes.
“Women in this age group are grandmothers who are taking care of grandchildren, and they often make financial contributions to their families. But with these changes, and with them having to enter the labor market, it’s an uphill challenge!
“Men need to realise that these changes impact their wives, their sisters, their neighbours and their co-workers. It is men who will have to share the financial burden, and so we all need to unite because this is not good for anybody.
“I’ve met a lot of women affected and they don’t want to claim benefits because they have worked hard all their lives. Women have earned their pension and they want it.
“We hope that the new Prime Minister, Theresa May, can take the lead and sort out this problem.”
Lynne Sutton, 61, is a WASPI member who helps with their PR. She said: “The government has made a £30bn saving by increasing the state pension age. This has hit 2.6 million women born in the 1950s.
“To be entitled to your pension you need to have at least 35 years of pension credits. Many of these women have already paid in for over 40 years but they still have a further five years to go.
“There is a lot of inequality about the way the changes have been done. We want justice, we want what’s ours.”
WASPI’s future plans are to increase awareness of their campaign across the UK. Lynne said: “Due to the success our campaign at Westminster on June 29, where 2,500 WASPI women joined the demonstrations, we are planning a national campaign in order to reach more women who are still unaware of this issue.”
On Wednesday, July 20, WASPI will attend a meeting at Dover District Council which, like the meeting in Thanet, will aim to gain the councillor’s support.
Councillor Karen Constantine said: “I think the Labour councillors from Dover will support WASPI 100% after they hear the unfairness with which women have been treated”.