Latest from the Branch

ANNUAL CONFERENCE 2020 – PROGRAMME OF BUSINESS

ANNUAL CONFERENCE 2020 – PROGRAMME OF BUSINESS

At the NEC held on the 22nd January 2020 the following programme of business was agreed for CWU Conference 2020:

Sunday 19th April 2020                – General Conference

Monday 20th April 2020                 –  Equality Day

Tuesday 21st April 2020                – General Conference

Wednesday 22nd – Friday 24th April 2020 – Industrial Conferences

Branches should be aware that the Equality Day at Annual Conference 2020 will include motions in the morning and afternoon (subject to SOC placement).   The aim for the Equality Day is for it to be informative and interactive with a number of panel sessions, campaign presentations for our National Equality Leads and guest speakers.

Any enquiries regarding this LTB should be addressed to Angela Niven by telephoning 020 8971 7256 or by post to head office or by email to conferences@cwu.org

Yours sincerely

A P Kearns

Senior Deputy General Secretary

20LTB045

Election of CWU National Officers – 2020

Election of CWU National Officers – 2020

Further to LTB 037/20 dated 23rd January 2020, we have now been advised that the current responsibilities under the Assistant Secretary (TFS) are not as previously published and are as follows:

  • Assistant Secretary (TFS)

The above position is currently responsible for dealing with the following companies;  BT Technology, Santander Group, Manpower, Telefonica O2, Paragon and Connect 44.

We would be grateful if you could ensure that this LTB is brought to the attention of the members of your branch.

Any enquiries regarding this Letter to Branches should be addressed to the Senior Deputy General Secretary’s Department on telephone number 020 8971 7237, or email address sdgs@cwu.org.

Yours sincerely,

Tony Kearns

Senior Deputy General Secretary

20LTB044

PM must keep promise to retain free TV licences for over 75’s

The National Pensioners Convention is calling on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to keep his pre-election promise and retain free TV licences for over 75’s.

As the clock ticks down to the May 31 deadline when the universal benefit, first introduced in 1999, is scrapped the NPC – the campaigning organisation for older people -says the PM must act fast.

NPC General Secretary Jan Shortt commented: “We appeal to the Prime Minister to be true to his word and save this vital benefit. 

“Isolation and loneliness are huge issues for older people. For many their TV is their window on the world and the only company they have. With over two million living below the poverty line, they simply can’t afford £154.40 for a TV licence.”

Mr Johnson is on record as saying it was ‘crucial’ to retain the benefit and he aimed to thrash out a new funding formula with the BBC, who were passed the £745 million bill for the benefit by the Government. Speaking last November* he saidhe would hold talks with the BBC as the issue needed ‘sorting out urgently.’ However in an interview with BBC yesterday (14th January) – the PM’s first of 2020 – he made no mention of the issue.

The BBC says it cannot afford to fund all free licences for over 75’s and plans to means-test older people by giving it only to those who receive Pension Credit. 

The NPC strongly believes the Government, not the BBC, have responsibility for funding the free over 75’s licence as part of a wider package of universal pensioner benefits in lieu of a decent state pension.

Jan Shortt said: “We call on the Government to respect this and take the free licence back under the benefits umbrella as a matter of urgency to give peace of mind to those worried about how they will manage to pay.”

Research by Age UK, working alongside the NPC to campaign for free TV licences for all over-75s, shows many people will fall through the means-testing net, and that 50,000 could be pushed below the poverty line if the BBC plan goes ahead. The charity says more than two million over 75s will have to go without TV or cut back on heating and food in order to remain informed, entertained, stimulated and connected to the world beyond their doorstep. Age UK has sent a 634,334 signature petition to 10 Downing Street to call for the free licence to be saved.

*The Prime Minister was speaking in a pre-election interview with The Sun on Sunday, November 2019.

The National Pensioners Convention was set up in 1979 to champion the rights and welfare of the UK’s older people. It now represents more than 1.5 million people in over 1000 different organisations across the UK. It holds an annual pensioner’s parliament which debates current issues affecting the nation’s older population. The 2020 National Pensioners Annual Convention – previously known as the NPC Pensioners’ Parliament – will be held in Southport from June 2 to 4, 2020. 

Millions of Waspi women who lost out by state pension increase given sliver of hope

Millions of Waspi women who lost out by state pension increase given sliver of hope.

               Campaigning group Backto60 has been granted the right to appeal

              the High Court’s ruling CREDIT:  ISABEL INFANTES/ AFP •  Jessica Beard, pensions reporter

22 JANUARY 2020

Women born in the Fifties affected by the rise in their state pension age from 60 to 65 have been given a sliver of hope after being granted approval to appeal a High Court ruling from last October.

Two women from the Backto60 campaign group took the Government to a judicial review, arguing the delay in receiving their state pension had disproportionately affected them. Until 2010, women were entitled to receive the state pension from the age of 60, but the government announced in 1995 that this would increase to the age of 65 to equalise the playing field with men. 

The two women argued that many others of their generation took time out of work to care for children which limited their earnings, meaning they had less opportunity to build up a healthy private pension.

The High Court judges decided they had not been discriminated against, and claimed the government’s move was to “correct historic direct discrimination against men”.

But now the group has had a breakthrough in its fight by receiving the green light to contest the ruling in the Court of Appeal. 

Many of the complaints made by campaigners including group Backto60 and Women Against State Pension Inequality (Waspi) have called for a reinstatement of the age of 60 for women’s state pension and for compensation of the amount they have missed out on since the ruling. 

Campaigners and complainants argue they did not have enough time to prepare for the change, which has left them worse off in retirement and that they have experienced financial loss with a negative impact on their health, emotional well-being or home life. They contend that the change has discriminated against 3.8 million people, leaving them £47,000 out of pocket in retirement. 

Separately, the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) is set to begin investigating a sample of complaints from women affected, after sending out communications to them last week. 

The PHSO has been barred by the High Court ruling from recommending the reimbursement of these “lost” pensions, and nor can it advise in favour of a reversal of the Pensions Act legislation. However, it has been investigating to see if there has been an injustice as a result of maladministration, under which it could make recommendations to pay out compensation. 

The investigation differs from the judicial review in that not all the issues considered were taking into account as part of the review, including DWP’s and ICE’s complaint handling and the communication of changes to National Insurance. 

The ombudsman will look at whether the DWP conducted its communication of the changes to women’s state pension age wrongly or poorly, focusing on what the department should have done to better voice the changes.  

State pension age: Fresh hope for WASPI & Back-to-60 women as court appeal is granted

State pension age: Fresh hope for WASPI & Back-to-60 women as court appeal is granted.

STATE PENSION: Campaigners who have been affected by the state pension age changes for women have been granted permission to appeal the decision lodged regarding the Judicial Review about the age and sex and age discrimination.

By JESS SHELDON

PUBLISHED: Wed, Jan 22, 2020 

Julie Delve and Karen Glynn, from the campaign group Backto60, challenged the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) with a judicial review, which took place last year. The campaigners argued that rising their state pension age “unlawful discriminated against them on the grounds of age, sex and age and sex combined”.

On Monday this week, (20th January) Back-To-60 confirmed that the campaign group had been granted permission to appeal the decision.

An announcement on the Back-To-60 website reads: “We are delighted to confirm that http://www.back-to-60.com have been granted permission to Appeal ON ALL GROUNDS at The Court of Appeal.”

Speaking in a video outside Number 10 Downing Street on Monday, Joanne Welch, Back-to-60 director said: “We’re delighted to be here today at Number 10 Downing Street, and share with you the brilliant news that Back-to-60 has been granted an appeal in the High Court based on all grounds argued.

“Absolutely thrilled to share that with you, and thank you everybody who’s donated and supported us, because without you, we would not be here.”

State pension age changes: Backto60 campaigners have been granted permission to appeal the decision.

The Case Tracker for Civil Appeals states that the case is currently awaiting a hearing.

It says that the hearing will be by February 25, 2021.

Also speaking outside Number 10 Downing Street on Monday, Jackie Jones, a Labour MEP for Wales, said: “I’m here at Number 10 Downing Street for Back-To-60. We just handed in a petition for women born in the 50s to get their pensions back, and this is absolutely vital. Legislation should be passed.”

However, changes to the state pension age for women were announced the Pensions Act 1995.

Under the Pensions Act 2011, the state pension age for women increased more quickly to 65 between April 2016 and November 2018.

Now, the state pension age for women is increasing for both men and women.

In October last year, Ms Delve and Ms Glynn, supported by campaign group Back-to-60, took the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to court over the changes.

The women, supported by Back-to-60, claimed the increases discriminated against them on the grounds of sex, age and both sex and age combined, and that they were not given adequate notice of the changes, in order to prepare for the years without their state pension.

State pension age changes: A judicial review took place last year, but the claims were dismissed

However, High Court judges dismissed their claims “on all grounds”.

Lord Justice Irwin and Mrs Justice Whipple said in a statement: “There was no direct discrimination on grounds of sex, because this legislation does not treat women less favourably than men in law,”

“Rather it equalises a historic asymmetry between men and women and thereby corrects historic direct discrimination against men.”

The DWP cannot comment on pending legal action.

Last year, Ms Welch spoke to Express.co.uk about the campaign. During an exclusive interview, she said: “They [50s women] were quite happy. They had raised their families, looked after them, and probably cared for the elderly in some cases.

State pension age changes: The DWP released new figures of the total cost                                estimate of reversing the changes last year.

“Maybe they were looking forward to their retirement, and then the rug is ripped up from beneath their feet.”

The Campaign Director also explained that the group are seeking a “fair equality”.

She said: “Generally speaking, people are pro equality – as are we. However, we will be looking for a fair equality.

“50s women have suffered lifelong inequity, like the pension gap, the pay gap, the maternity gap. It’s like, ‘Mind the Gap’.

“You’d have to be a 50s woman to actually understand these gaps.

“Women weren’t even entitled to occupational pensions. It was seriously as bad as that.”

Elsewhere, the campaign group Women Against State Pension Age Inequality (WASPI) has received a notification from the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) that they will proceed with a revised proposal to investigate six sample Complaints of Maladministration.

Over-75s face winter heat misery as free TV licences end.• Daily Mirror

Over-75s face winter heat misery as free TV licences end.• Daily Mirror.

• 23 Jan 2020

THOUSANDS of over-75s could struggle to pay winter heating bills after the Tories broke an election pledge to protect free TV licences.

Around 3.7 million face paying £154.50 to watch telly from June, with only those on Pension Credit still be eligible for the free lifeline.

And Age UK, which fought alongside the Mirror to save free licences, says it will be a “bridge too far” for many. Charity boss Caroline

Abrahams warned: “As winter bites many pensioners are worried about heating bills and cutting back on essentials, including food.

“The last thing older people in this situation need is to be hit in the pocket because they have to find the money for a TV licence.”

The Conservatives had promised in their 2017 manifesto to continue funding the perk until 2022.

Tories’ turn off.• Fresh fears for over-75s’ finances as they face looming TV licence fee bill.

From June millions of pensioners are going be £154 worse off.

That’s because this Tory government reneged on its promise to maintain free TV licences for the over 75s.

Age UK says the loss of the benefit will leave hundreds of thousands of elderly struggling to pay their heating and water bills.

Boris Johnson has tried to wash his hands of all responsibility by blaming the BBC.

This is unfair on the cash-strapped broadcaster, which was told by ministers to accept responsibility for funding free TV licences or risk losing its charter to operate.

Pensioners left out of pocket will realise that the fault lies with a Tory government.

Coronavirus and Avian Flu Outbreaks in China – Statements From Royal Mail Group, Department of Social Care (DHSC) and Public Health England (PHE) and Further Advice

Coronavirus and Avian Flu Outbreaks in China – Statements From Royal Mail Group, Department of Social Care (DHSC) and Public Health England (PHE) and Further Advice

This is an update further to LTB No. 033/2020, issued on 22 January 2020.

Royal Mail Group Statement:

Royal Mail Group issued the attached advice on their intranet site on Friday morning 24 January and stated that the Business is monitoring the Coronavirus outbreak situation in China and will issue more updates as appropriate following advice from Public Health England (PHE).

PHE maintain that the risk to the UK population has been assessed as low and should this assessment change, the NHS is well prepared. Royal Mail has advised that as with all mail handling and all other roles, good hand and personal hygiene should be maintained to minimise the risk of any infection of colds and flu, which are very common at this time of year. Hands should always be washed before eating and any gloves worn for mail handling should be washed frequently. Royal Mail has decided that although the risk of infection is very low, while the Coronavirus situation is developing, disposable gloves will be made available to anyone handling large numbers of parcels or letters originating from China who would like to wear them as an additional precaution. Any member wishing to be provided with the disposable gloves should request them from their manager. Details of how they are to be ordered have been provided to Office Managers and are contained in the attached Royal Mail statement.

Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and Public Health England (PHE)

The latest news update and statement from DHSC and PHE jointly is attached. They confirm continued enhanced monitoring of the Coronavirus situation in Wuhan, China and are ready to put in place proportionate, precautionary measures to protect the UK public. All direct flights from Wuhan, China to the UK are being met and advice and support to travellers is being provided if they feel unwell. The team involved includes medical inspectors, doctors, admin support and a team leader. They will check for symptoms of Coronavirus and provide information to all passengers about symptoms and what to do if they become ill. Mandarin and Cantonese language support will be available and leaflets will be available to all passengers.

DHSC has issued clinical guidance for the detection and diagnosis of Coronavirus, and PHE has developed a diagnostic test, making the UK one of the first countries outside China to have a prototype specific laboratory test for this new disease.

The UK is well prepared for new diseases and the UK’s approach is kept under constant review. UK public health measures are world-leading and the NHS is well prepared to manage and treat new diseases.

Despite the current reports of 2000 confirmed cases and 50 deaths in China and confirmed cases of 15 other places outside China, DHSC and PHE confirm that the risk to the UK population has been assessed as low, based on the emerging evidence regarding case numbers, potential sources and human to human transmission. To date there are no confirmed cases of this new infection in the UK.

Can you catch Coronavirus from Parcels and Packages Posted from China to the UK?

According to BBC health and science correspondents Dr. Michelle Roberts and Biologist James Gallagher along with the US Department of Health in Minnesota, the answer is no, there is no evidence this is a risk. These Medical experts say the Coronavirus can only survive on inanimate objects for a few hours, maybe a day or two in perfect laboratory conditions and parcels and packages from China take several days to arrive. Some diseases can spread through surfaces contaminated by people coughing or sneezing on them. It has not been shown this new Coronavirus can do that. Even if it could, there would still be questions about whether international shipping would be a major problem. Cold viruses tend to survive less than 24 hours outside the human body although Norovirus (a severe stomach bug) can last for months outside the body. The most reassuring fact so far is that Coronavirus cases seem to require close contact with an infected person – say, a family member or healthcare worker – in order to spread. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause respiratory illnesses such as Pneumonia and Bronchitis. The viruses are in the respiratory tract and they spread mainly through the air via coughing or sneezing, through close personal contact and touching one’s mouth, nose, or eyes after touching an object or surface with the virus on it, before washing one’s hands.

Maintain Good Basic Hygiene

The NHS and doctors advise everyone to maintain good basic hand and personal hygiene standards, washing hands regularly to minimise the risk of any infection as this virus outbreak develops.

Yours sincerely

Dave Joyce
National Health, Safety & Environment Officer

20LTB043 Coronavirus and Avian Flu Outbreaks in China

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