Happy returns as group for the elderly comes of age

Guests and delegates at the conference all spoke of the need to protect pensioners' rights.
Guests and delegates at the conference all spoke of the need to protect pensioners' rights.

THE 21st Scottish Pensioners Forum Conference took place at the GLO Centre in Motherwell last week.

Over 200 pensioners and affiliated groups came together to hear about more cuts to welfare benefits and public spending meaning more cuts, more poverty.

Provost Jim Robertson opened up the conference with a civic welcome, congratulating the Scottish Pensioners Forum on their 21st birthday and the work they do in leading campaigns for pensioners groups.

Stand-in chairperson Margaret Murdoch apologised for the absence of guest speaker SNP deputy leader Nicola Sturgeon due to the Legionnaires Disease outbreak in Edinburgh.

Her replacement, civil servant John Storrie, spoke about the five years of council tax freeze and the work SNP have done to help deliver free healthcare.

Questions were raised from the delegates asking for more details on free healthcare.

Delegates and affiliates then voted on committee positions to help run and organise the forum for 2012/13 with local delegates Tommy Brennan being voted back on the executive committee, and John Milligan voted on to standing orders. The afternoon speaker Hugh Gaffney, of North Lanarkshire Trade Union Council, gave an insight to the work and campaigns done by NLTUC including Monklands Hospital, living wage, pensions, and the ‘Better Way’ campaign against public service cuts.

He also spoke about his aspirations to put the story of Keir Hardie in the theatre with a drama production and praised the No Pasaran Committee who wish to build a memorial in Motherwell to the North Lanarkshire volunteers who fought in the Spanish Civil War.

Delegates came from trade unions, housing associations, pensioner groups, as well as many individual retirees, were able to raise concerns over a range of topics.

These include threats to abolish bus passes, the future of Blue Badge holders, disability rights being lost, affordable housing and a Scottish Pensioners Parliament.

Many questions were answered by the top table of Margaret McNulty, Bill Alison and event organizer Eileen Cawley.

Delegate Elinor McKenzie finished the day with a short film showing 20 years of work and meetings by the Scottish Pensioners Forum.

She told delegates of the need to continue the good work to protect the next generation of pensioners.

In his closing remarks, Mr Brennan thanked all delegates and guest speakers, and reminding members of the need for one voice for pensioners.