“Unite and fight against the Tory government’s cost-of-living offensive”
Pensioners gathered at their biennial conference on 15-16 March in angry mood, determined to fight back against the Tory government’s attack on the ‘Triple Lock’ state pensions guarantee, and pensioners living standards.
With pensions being cut in real terms, pensioners face a winter of increasing poverty and deaths from an inability to afford the cost of heating their homes.
This anger was expressed in demands from around the country to increase the £10 Christmas Bonus and the Winter Fuel Allowance. The conference also demanded restoring the Triple Lock (uprating pensions to whatever is higher – inflation, wages or 2.5%), and the free BBC licence for the over 75-year-olds.
Yorkshire and Humber delegates called for the bus networks to be brought back into public ownership. PCS retired union delegates opposed the government’s ‘Voter Identity’ proposals that ‘will exclude those that who don’t have passports or photographic driving passes from taking part in the democratic process’. An amendment was passed calling for the energy companies to be nationalised.
As well as passing these policies, pensioners expressed doubts that they could rely on Westminster politicians to defend their interests. Therefore, the need for the NPC to sharpen and widen its campaigning base by increasing local trade union and community support was apparent.
A discussion in local NPC groups is taking place with a view to building the organisation from the grassroots up, recruiting younger pensioners, increasing fundraising, and building solidarity with local activists.
Pensioners need the return of the Triple Lock, but that is just the start. The state pension must increase substantially to take it above the current poverty level.
We also need to counter the false divide perpetuated in the right-wing media between young people and pensioners. We have much more in common than divides us. Our slogan is: ‘Trade unionists, youth, pensioners unite and fight against the Tory government’s cost of living offensive’.
Clare Wilkins, David Jones, Dave Warren and Terry Pearce, NPC delegates and Socialist Party members