68 is too late

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2013 National Women's Conference
18 October 2012

Conference notes with concern that the Government wants to increase the state pension age to 68. This will mean that the United Kingdom will have the highest retirement age in Europe.

The proposed changes to the state pension age are disproportionately impacting on the lives of women. The accelerated state pension age rise for women has dashed the expectations of working women who will now be forced to work longer. This raises serious questions about the ability of women workers in some jobs to be able to do their jobs safely and effectively; the lack of opportunities which will be available for younger women; and the levels of stress and ill health among an ageing workforce, with women having to pick up the pieces.

Women are already at a significant disadvantage when it comes to pensions. An entire generation of women has tended to earn far less during their working careers. Some schemes only allowed part-time workers, the vast majority of whom are women, to join pension schemes relatively recently. This change was only as a result of a legal challenge by UNISON.

Many women have also had interrupted careers that gave them less chance to build up a pension outside the state system.

LGBT women not only face the longer wait for their state pension, but also face seeing some of the value of the hard fought equality, including pensions for surviving same sex partners and pensions equality for trans workers, being eroded.

Many LGBT women choose to work in the public services, where pay is often lower, as they feel safer there. This can result in LGBT women having lower living standards in their retirement.

Conference calls upon the national women’s committee to:

1)liaise with the NEC and service groups to ensure that these concerns are taken on board in UNISON’s pensions campaigning and negotiating agenda;

2)liaise with the NEC to ensure that clear advice is available to members on the benefits of remaining within their occupational pension scheme and the implications of leaving;

3)liaise with Labour Link to continue to lobby for improvements so that state pensions reflect fair value, provide enough income for the least well off, and make a real difference to people’s lives in retirement

4)liaise with the National LGBT Committee to ensure that LGBT issues are taken into account when campaigning for women’s pensions

5)encourage women members to become actively involved in pensions campaigning.