NUJ takes part in pensioners’ conference

Concern about a wide variety of subjects, such as public expenditure cuts, OAP free bus services, power and petrol prices and recycling symbols were raised at the annual SW TUC pensioners’ conference at Weston-super-Mare on May 27.

Bristol NUJ branch was represented by Bernard Smyth, who reports that about 80 retired unionists made it a lively event at the Winter Gardens.

Bernard is also a member of 60+, the NUJ’s own pensioner organisation, which was set up last year.

The public transport motion expressed concern about threats to withdraw or reduce pensioners’ bus passes and called for the scheme to be extended to people travelling with an eligible disabled person and for it to include all types of public transport throughout the UK.

Another call from the meeting was for the South West TUC to pressure the Government to ensure that any increases in pensions should apply to all aspects of state pensions such as SERPS and graduated pension elements.

The conference was concerned at the “obscene” profits being made by utilities companies and called for regulators to have more power to restrict profits so that savings could be offset against future prices increases.

The meeting also backed a call for the TUC to campaign for all pensioners in need of a heating system with a grant from the Warm Front Team to be given all the facts as well as a grant to cover gas supply installation. Some who did not have a gas supply have to pay for the installation of the supply and meter, but few were able to afford these.

The system of symbols to signify various recycling bins was confusing, delegates were told. There were too many differing colours used for the same type of bins and some had no symbol. With green issues high on the list of concerns and controls on recycling being enforced, the confusion needs to be removed, the delegates decided. They called on the TUC and regional MPs to ask the Government to simplify and standardise the symbols on all packaging and products.

Conference also heard about the Department of Health review started last year with a view to ending age discrimination and promoting age equality in health and social care. Richard Gleave, project director for the national review, said some progress had been made but not enough. The thinking was that people such as doctors, nurses and care workers dealing with old people should see the person not the age.

A presentation on Fit as a Fiddle, an Age UK scheme backed by Lottery funds, was given by its director, Jackie Hayhoe, and the conference heard a report by Peter Rayner, vice president of the National Pensioners’ Convention (NPC), who said the NPC needed to be “balanced to take all old people along” with it. But a delegate said it should be more political and “not so dignified” to achieve its aims.

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