Hundreds join march calling for justice over women’s pensions

Women from across Scotland have taken part in a demonstration in Glasgow calling for an end to state pension inequality.

An estimated 200 people marched from Festival Park, near Pacific Quay, to the Mary Barbour statue at Govan Cross on Saturday.

They were joined by Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf, MPs and MSPs, as well as trade union leaders.

Waspi demonstrators
Waspi demonstrators

Nicola Sturgeon addressed the demonstrators at Govan Cross, telling them to not give up in their fight for justice.

The First Minister also described the action on pensions taken by the UK Government as a “robbery”.

“You can come up with lots of different ways to describe what has been done and is being done to women over their pensions,” said Ms Sturgeon.

“You can call it an injustice, you can call it bad policy – I dare say, if you were a Lib Dem or a Tory, you’d call it ‘unintended consequences’.

“But I’m going to call it what it is – downright robbery. It is the theft of money that is yours.

“Pensions in the UK, by international standards, are not particularly generous, let’s be honest about that. If you were getting every penny that you were entitled to, it wouldn’t be a king’s ransom.

“But it is not acceptable for money that you have worked for, for money that you had every right to expect, to be taken away from you. And even worse than that, to be taken away from you with no opportunity, with no time, for you to plan.

“Tens of thousands of women across Scotland, hundreds of thousands of women across the UK, are losing tens of thousands of pounds.

“If that is not an injustice, if that is not theft, if that is not robbery, then I don’t know what is.”

Nicola Sturgeon
Nicola Sturgeon

Women Against State Pension Inequality have campaigned against changes which raised the age at which state pension was given to women.

From 1948 for more than 60 years men received their state pension at 65 and women at the age of 60.

But over the years it was argued that the difference was unfair, as women had a longer life expectancy than men.

Under the 1995 Pensions Act, a timetable was drawn up to equalise the age at which men and women could draw their state pension.

The plan was to raise the qualifying age for women to 65 and to phase in that change from 2010 to 2020.

But the coalition government of 2010 decided to accelerate the timetable, arguing that the state pension was becoming increasingly unaffordable.

As well as indicating her aim to see power over pensions devolved to the Scottish Parliament, Ms Sturgeon added that the issue extended beyond a matter of economics.

“Every woman, every man, should stand with you,” said the First Minister.

“This is not just an issue of economic injustice, although it is most certainly that – this is an issue of gender injustice.

“If this was happening to men, it would be a national scandal on the front page of every newspaper.”