Senior Labour figures are preparing to improve their offer to compensate 3.8 million women born in the 1950s who are facing hardship by having to wait up to six years for their pensions.
John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, indicated that the party is now looking at a new offer as the general election approaches.
He made the comment after a private meeting at Labour’s annual conference this week organised by his office which enabled leading figures from campaigning organisations fighting the women’s cause to pitch their case to senior people from the Labour Party.
The meeting came as the two largest trade unions affiliated to Labour, Unison and Unite, backed the case for full restitution for the women. Len McCluskey, leader of Unite, personally endorsed full restitution, in a tweet. The party is also discussing putting the offer in its general election manifesto.
Among the leading figures at the meeting were Laura Alvarez, the wife of Jeremy Corbyn: Andy Whitaker and Rory Macqueen respectively head of strategic communications and chief economic adviser at John McDonnell’s office; Mike Amesbury, shadow employment minister, and Fran Springfield, co chair of Labour’s disability organisation and one of the people drawing up the party’s manifesto. Mr McDonnell came to the end of the meeting.
The organisations represented included BackTo60, Waspi Scotland, Waspi Ltd and Waspi 2018.
They were backed up by two women from Unison in Wales, Lianne Dallimore and Mac Hawkins who also addressed the meeting.
Jackie Jones, Labour MEP for Wales, also pressed the case for full restitution and explained how it come done by a special temporary measure through Parliament using the UN Convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women (CEDAW) which was ratified by Margaret t5hatcher in 1986. This allows the money to be paid without amending the present pension age of 66 for men and women.
At present Labour’s offer is confined to backdating payments for two years from 66 to 64 for 1950s born women but no further compensation.
Labour is also waiting the result of the judicial review held in June where Michael Mansfield, QWC put the case for full restitution for all 50s women. It has now been announced it will report on October 3 – next Thursday.
Among other people who attended the meeting were Christine Blower, former general secretary of the National union of Teachers, who is about to be ennobled as Baroness Blower; Labour MP for Ipswich Sandy Martin; Labour MEPs Jude Kirton-Darling and Richard Corbett. Moira Ramage, prospective Labour candidate for Paisley and Renfrewshire South.