Cameron Matthews, Labour candidate for Suffolk Coastal:
As a Firefighter I know better than most what it’s like to have your pension stolen from you. I know the feeling of paying into something for years then having it reneged upon.
In 2013/14 the coalition government of the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats launched a campaign to snatch the hard earned and well-paid-for pensions away from millions of public sector workers. Firefighters were among them.
Firefighters had personally payed huge contribution rates well above the national average.
Medical evidence showed that the unrealistic change to the normal pension age would see two out of every three Firefighters placed in a position with no job and no pension because they would not be able to meet the fitness requirements at the latter stages of their careers.
We clearly demonstrated that the transition arrangements from one scheme to another were discriminatory because they were, in part, based on the year you were born.
Yet, despite showing that the proposals were unreasonable, unworkable and unfair, the changes were forced through by the Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government in a vote in December 2014. Labour voted to support the Firefighters.
It took Firefighters a further four years and a costly lawsuit to prove in court that we were right. We took on the government and we won. We proved the discriminatory nature of a transition based on age.
Does this sound familiar? It might be because it echoes the situation faced by hundreds of thousands of women born in the 1950s. These women have been singled out for unfair and unequal treatment due to the way increases to state pension age were brought in by the 1995 Conservative Government’s State Pension Act.
Just like the Firefighters, many of these women face the prospect of no job and no pension.
That’s why I’m proud to announce that I have signed the WASPI Pledge, committing to:
“Support fair transitional arrangements for women affected by State Pension age changes and call on government to work with WASPI to deliver a solution for everyone.”
Everyone deserves dignity and security in retirement. It’s time we took the steps to deliver justice to the hundreds of thousands of women effected by these changes
It’s time we stopped talking about it and started doing it. Let’s bring about real change to people’s lives. We can do this. Vote Labour on the 12th December and we will make it happen.