Shelagh Simmons and Carolyne Jacobs, joint co-ordinators of the Solent WASPI group, share this report from Wednesday’s demo. Ed
Thousands of women and men participated on Wednesday in a mass demonstration to demand an end to state pension inequality. The demonstration took place outside Parliament and was timed to coincide with Budget Day and International Women’s Day.
Among those making the trip to London were the Solent Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) Supporters’ Group, which included representatives from Portsmouth, Southampton, the New Forest and the Isle of Wight.
There was an enormous presence on Social Media including a Twitter Thunderclap and Instagram pictures.
Political speakers at the rally included:
- Tim Loughton MP
- Jason McCartney MP
- Mhairi Black MP
- Ian Blackford MP
- Barbara Keeley MP
- Carolyn Harris MP
- Alex Salmond MP and
- Dave Prentis, General Secretary of UNISON
- Peter Stefanovic, Lawyer and Journalist
To coincide with the rally, solicitors for WASPI, Bindmans LLP, have written to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions regarding the injustice suffered by women born in the 1950s resulting from the substantial changes to state pension arrangements that were not properly communicated. The letter puts forward a number of proposals that would help WASPI women.
Jamie Potter, a partner in the Public Law and Human Rights team at Bindmans, commented:
“For too long the women of WASPI have patiently and courteously sought to engage with the Government to obtain redress for the very serious injustices brought about by successive governments’ failure properly to communicate the changes to the state pension age. Those calls have, unfortunately, fallen upon deaf ears. Our clients have therefore been forced to send formal legal correspondence to the Government to call for concrete action. If the Government refuses to consider these proposals, our clients will have no alternative but to consider all available legal and other options.”
A great sense of purpose and resolve
Solent WASPI Supporters’ Group Joint Coordinators, Shelagh Simmons and Carolyne Jacobs, said there was a great sense of purpose and resolve among all those who had come to make their voices heard.
They were proud to stand alongside others who had made the journey from as far afield as Scotland and the Scilly Isles. They also welcomed the cross-party support from the many MPs who spoke in support of the campaign.
“There was a great sense of solidarity among us all and we feel this marks an important step forward in our campaign,” they commented. The WASPI campaign was recently bolstered by a grant from political grant maker Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust Ltd.
Fiona Weir, Chief Executive of JRRT commented,
“The Trust is pleased to strengthen the hand of this campaign to remedy a manifest injustice. WASPI is standing up for thousands of women who will be significantly worse off in retirement than expected. We look forward to working with them.”