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Pensioners' Manifesto - The general election gives Briatin's 11 million pensioners a unique opportunity to influence the policies of the next government. All candidates are being asked to support the key proposals within the Pensioners' Manifesto - or face the possible consequences at the ballot box. The campaign to promote the Manifesto has already started - visit for more information.
Pensions - Every day pensions are in the news. The Pensions Commission, the Citizen's Pension and the Pension Credit are all hitting the headlines. The NPC continues to make the case for a basic state pension of 105 a week to be paid to all pensioners that is free from means-testing and linked to earnings. The Convention's Women's Working Party will also soon be publishing a new pamphlet on Women and Pensions.

UK pensions and Europe - It is widely acknowledged that the UK has one of the least generous state pensions in Europe. Details of pension provision across the EU is contained in a briefing paper which can be downloaded here in PDF format..

Pension Books - The government decided to scrap pension books without any consultation with pensioners. The Convention has been one of the few organisations to oppose the move and continues to argue for a system that allows older people to collect their pensions at the post office without any fear or anxiety. For more information see briefing paper number 29.
Council tax - Bills for 2005 will soon be issued. The Convention remains opposed to council tax because it is unrelated to the ability to pay and has failed to safeguard essential local services on which many pensioners rely.
Other campaign issues include long-term care, chiropody, free nationwide travel, cuts in adult education andmaking poverty history for older people in developing countries.

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lVoices from the Home Front

The project aims to commemorate

Voices from the Home Front Project


The Voices from the Home Front Project has been launched by the National Pensioners Convention as part of its contribution to the 60th anniversary of the end of WWII. This is a joint project involving the TUC and London Metropolitan University, and funded by the Big Lottery Fund.

The project aims to commemorate peoples experiences of the Second World War in the workplace: factories, offices, shipyards, farms, railways, nurseries, mines and many other industries.

Aims of the Voices from the Home Front Project

In 2005, the project will:

  • Collect and record memories of and reflections on what it was like at work during the war. These will hopefully be available on the website of the NPC, London Metropolitan University and the BBC.

  • Produce an exhibition that accurately reflects the role of trade unions and workers on the Home Front and how that influenced post-1945 British society.

  • Organise regional and national events that bring together individuals with first hand experience of working on the Home Front. This will also include appearing at the Pensioners Parliament and TUC Congress.

  • Produce material which can be distributed amongst trade unionists and pensioner organizations, including the production of a regular newsletter called Voices from the Home Front.

How can you help?

Nationally, the trade unions played a key role in wartime production and the mobilization of labour. We would like to know about your experience in a union: on the shop or office floor, as a shop steward or rank and file member. If you have a story to tell please get in touch.

We would also like to visit NPC regions to interview Home Front veterans. Can you help put us in touch with people so that we can organise a regional forum to conduct a series of interviews?

Q. Is your region planning conferences, meetings or workshops that we could attend? We can send a speaker, a stall and do interviews.

Q. In each region we are hoping to focus on one or two major industries/services. For example, in the south-east we will be concentrating on the railways. Can you suggest an industry in your region?

Q. Does your local branch have contacts with trade union retired members sections that we could meet?

Q. Do you have photographs, newspapers, union journals or leaflets that relate to the wartimeworkplace that we could borrow?

Q. Do you publish a regional or local newsletter that publicise the Home Front project? We can send information on the project to you for articles.

Q. Do you have contacts with the local media or are there events going on that we could attend?

Q. Do you know of local community groups, archives, libraries or university departments that could help with the project?

How can you get in touch?

To contact Voices from the Home Front Project or to get more information, please contact Dave Welsh on , email: or write to Home Front Project, NPC , London, .

Please get in touch with information on the Home Front and send us your letters, ideas and suggestions.

The TUC archive at London Metropolitan University has a huge collection of Home Front material, some of which will be made available during this project.

Their website is: the unionmakesusstrong://

Please send your comments on their material to this website.

The Imperial War Museum is organizing a national touring exhibition of WW2 in 2005. Their website is:

The Oral History website is:

The National Sound Archive: archive/nsa.html

BBC Peoples War website is building up a new archive of WW2 stories. You can add your recollections of the Home Front by signing in with the member name natpencon and password-homefront04. Then contribute your Home Front story and pictures. The BBC Peoples War website is:

Trade Unions and the War

Trade union (TUC affiliates) membership grew by about 3 million between 1938 and 1946. It rose from 4.5 million to 7.5 million and recognition agreements increased in industries in which the unions had established only a partial presence before 1939.

The coalition government introduced a number of state controls and measures of social reform with trade union support, including cheap school meals, day nurseries, better pre-natal care and infant welfare, and the abolition of the means test.

Working through a tripartite Joint Consultative Committee (JCC), the government prohibited strikes and lockouts whilst collective bargaining was supplemented by a National Arbitration Tribunal. Wage controls were rejected but the pay restraint of wartime collective effort was effective in preventing a repeat of the pay and price crisis of World War One. Wage incomes rose by 18% between 1938 and 1947.

The pre- war shop steward system that had emerged during the First World War was boosted by labour shortages and the increased scope for workplace bargaining. Rank and file discontent led to an increase in strikes each year until 1944, about half of which were in support of wage demands and the rest in defence of existing conditions.

Women and the War

Conscription for women was introduced in 1941, either into the munitions industry, other designated sectors or the Land Army. Women faced the double burden of combining war production work with their role in the family. The government was forced by the circumstances of war to respond to these issues but low wages, discrimination and lack of opportunity continued in the workplace. 1,345 nurseries were in use by 1943 (there were only 14 in 1940) but this did not satisfy demand for childcare facilities and many women turned to private childcare. The message from the government was that such improvements were strictly a war-time measure anyway.

Voices from the Home Front

I was terrified to begin with because I had never picked up a spanner before and I thought I'd never learn it, what am I going to do... But I had to learn it, it was war work... because the men and women were doing exactly the same job we felt just as good as the boys. And as new men came into the plant often we were teaching them the job.

Odette Lesley

We formed a song and dance act in the factory. I was on the piano. We started off in the canteen, then we began performing in all the factory canteens around Acton.

Mary Hankins

We have no objection to working in the factories but we do object to the conditions we have to work under. Women in industry today are called upon to bear burdens that are beyond imagination.

Woman shop steward, 1941

Id always wanted to get out of domestic service when I worked for a doctor and his wife, I went and found out about evening classes, and she just stopped me from having the evening off at that time. They were determined, and this applied to most working class (not just coloured kids), you had to know your place.

Lilian Bader, 1940

They had an Age Concern exhibition and I took along some pictures of West Indian ex- servicewomen. That caused such a stir. People said, We never knew there were black ex-servicewomen, and that we even came to England.

Connie Goodridge

That morning we heard that many South Wales collieries had ceased work and the others in our valley were idle The argument that a strike would let our soldiers down was countered by men who had brothers and sons in the forces who, so they claimed, had urged them to fight and maintain their customs or privilegesThe scales were loaded against continuing work, because all around us collieries were idle and we felt their fight must be ours.

Bert Coombes, miner, 1944.

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