Friday, April 28, 2017

"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends" Worker Memorial Day 2017

Today is Workers Memorial Day, and across the world trade unionists remember the 20,000 British and the 2.3 million deaths of workers worldwide who die prematurely every year in work related accidents or from occupational disease.

In Three Mills Green, Stratford, East London there is a memorial to 4 workers who lost their lives while at work. On this site there used to be an underground well next to a Gin distillery. On July 12 1901 a worker was sent down the shaft to carry out work but was overcome by toxic fumes. Three of his fellow workers went down the shaft, in turn, to try and rescue him and were all in turn poisoned and died while trying to pull their comrades to safety.

The "Clasping hands" statue was later erected to honour this sacrifice.

West Ham Labour Party, UNISON Housing Association branch and Newham Teachers Association (NUT) have for the past several years laid a wreath on Workers Memorial Day at this site to remember all those who have died at work or from work related ill health.

Next year, 2018 Workers Memorial Day, is on a Saturday (it's always on 28 April) so we hope to hold a bigger event, inviting local schools, Woodcraft folk, all parts of the Labour Movement and progressive employers to attend and participate.

This part of East London is steeped in working class history. Behind this picture you can see the London Match Girls Strike Building and also the 2014 London Olympics Stadium.

My UNISON Branch Chair, Tony Power, addressed the gathering and pointed out that due to good health and safety agreements and practices with trade unions, no workers was killed building the London Olympic Stadium. While in a country such as Qater, which does not recognise trade unions, it is thought that 7000 workers will die by the time the World Football Cup kicks off in 2022.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

"Why I care so much about housing associations: they will be critical to delivering Jeremy Corbyn’s housebuilding target"

Today John Healey MP announced a welcome commitment to build a million homes if a Labour Government is elected on June 8.

We have to bang the Labour drum on safe, secure, decent and affordable housing for all.

Steve Hilditch on "Redbrick" is really interesting and thought provoking.

"While Boris Johnson mutters inanely about mugwumps, Jeremy Corbyn has tried hard to raise the housing issue in the election over the last couple of days and has started to trail Labour’s manifesto commitment to build a million homes.
Despite the media fascination with Johnson’s clowning, I think Jeremy’s core point – Labour will build more homes and more social rented homes – has come across well.  It was good to see his real passion for the subject during his visit to Harlow today.
It seems any debate about housing during elections – the same happened in 2010 and 2015 – is dogged by deliberate obfuscation about what is being discussed. At PMQs on Wednesday, Corbyn’s question to Theresa May was met by the well-rehearsed stock answer that Cameron delivered so many times before – the Tories have built more council houses than Labour did when it was in office.
It happens to be true, but what does it tell us? It tells us that the Labour Government didn’t want councils to be major builders – it’s one of my main beefs with Labour during the Government years. Instead, the money was put into housing associations to provide social rented housing and shared ownership. Mrs May never addresses that. The only comparison that matters between the two governments is how many homes for social rent were provided by councils AND housing associations together. Here the Labour Government wins hands down and many times over.
Sadly, the same confusion dogged the interview at lunchtime between Andrew Neil and Jack Dromey on the Daily Politics. Neil is just about the only interviewer who asks intelligent questions about housing because he has bothered to look up the figures and learn the difference between starts and completions. But even Neil compared apples and bananas in his questions. Mr Corbyn, he said, has committed to 500,000 new council and housing association homes over a Parliament but the only evidence we have to go on is Labour’s record in office. And then, the switch – he quoted the figures for council homes only. And he repeated the point a few times – the Tories build more council houses than Labour, so why should we believe Corbyn’s commitment?  And that was followed by another confusion, as Sayeeda Warsi started quoting housebuilding figures for the UK while Neil was talking England (or was it England and Wales?).
The viewer sadly must be left completely bewildered, and I hope Andrew Neil will return to the issue again.
Fortunately, Jeremy Corbyn managed to be very clear in his speech in Harlow that the commitment is to build 500,000 new council and housing association homes over the next Parliament. I know it’s a mouthful, but truncating the commitment to ‘council houses’ removes the meaning. Most people involved with housebuilding know that it would be virtually impossible to reach a target of completing 100,000 council homes a year even by the end of the Parliament, and certainly impossible to do it each year starting this year. Even if the resources and borrowing powers were available, it would take several years to gear up, to assemble the land, design the schemes, procure the building contracts, and get started on site. It would be a very good thing to do, but it would not produce the homes fast enough.
So, meeting Labour’s target will be dependent on getting housing associations to provide the homes. They are in a much stronger position than councils to accelerate housebuilding and have a track record of being able to produce homes for social rent and for shared ownership. To meet the target, councils will need to be the planners and the strategists and housing associations will need to be the primary deliverers.
As readers will be aware, I have my criticisms of housing associations. But if a new Labour Government had a clear direction and policy, and made the resources and powers available, I believe housing associations would respond. Most will do so with great enthusiasm, but even those associations who (shall we say) aren’t keen ‘to do social rent’ anymore would follow the money.
John Healey has also been all across the media promoting Labour’s message and has published his new report on Housing Innovations being undertaken by Labour Councils. It’s a recommended read".

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

West Ham Labour: General Election campaigning 2

Dear John

Thanks to everyone who's already been out campaigning and offered to help with leaflets. Here's the campaigning we'll be doing in Ilford North, Westminster North (both marginals) and here in West Ham over the next week or so. And just a reminder - all meetings (including GC) are suspended until after the election.

Ilford North
11am, 2pm and 6pm every day. Meeting 12a High View Parade, Woodford Avenue, IG4 5EP (a 12 min walk from Gants Hill stn on the Central Line). Turn up and say you're from West Ham and they'll be very pleased to see you (and look after you if you haven't campaigned before).

A West Ham contingent will be head to Ilford North for 2pm on Saturday. Meet either there or at Stratford station (old Stratford side, not Westfiled) at 1.15pm to travel together. Please do come and join us if you're able to.

Westminster North:
Thurs 27 April 14.30 - Canvassing in Queen’s Park Court. Meet at the junction of Ilbert Street and Sixth Avenue W10 4AF.
18.30 - Canvassing in Westbourne Ward. Meet outside Westbourne Park Station, Great Western Road W11 1AB.
Fri 28 April 14.30 – Canvassing on the Lisson Green Estate. Meet at the entrance to the Estate – junction of Lisson Grove and Lilestone Street NW8 8ED
Sat 29 April 11.00 - Canvassing on the Amberley Estate, Westbourne Ward. Meet outside Waterway Pub, Formosa Street W9 2JU at the junction with Blomfield Road.
15.00 - Canvassing in Queen’s Park Ward. Meet outside the Jubilee Sports Centre, Caird Street W10 4RR.
Sun 30 April 11.00 - Canvassing in Church Street Ward. Meet outside Tesco, 94 Church Street NW8 8EX near the junction with Edgware Road.

West Ham
Sat 29 April
Street stalls - come and join us hand out leaflets and talk to shoppers - all welcome
* Stratford - 11am to 1pm, near McDonalds/Starbucks, E15 1XA (contact Karl)
* Canning Town North - 12pm to 1pm, outside John Bennet's newsagent, 128 Barking Rd, E16 1EN contact Shabs

Canvassing - knocking on doors - all welcome
Forest Gate North, 11am, outside Forest Gate Station. Contact John on 07432 150530
Forest Gate South, 11.30am, The Gate Library 2-6 Woodgrange Road E7 0QH. Contact Joel or Mas
Plaistow North 11 am, Plaistow stn, E13 0DY Contact Mehmood.
Plaistow South, 11.00 am Barking Road Community Centre, 627-633, Barking Road, E13 9EZ. Contact Neil 
West Ham, 11:15am, ATL Cafe, 125 Plaistow Rd, E15 3ET. Contact David

Members travelling to Ilford North meeting either Stratford station at 1.15pm or in Ilford North at 2pm.

Sun 30 April
Custom House, 11.30am, Custom House Library, Prince Regents Lane, E16 3JJ. Contact Rokhsana or Momodou
Plaistow South, 2.00pm.,Barking Road Community Centre, 627-633, Barking Road, E13 9EZ. Contact Neil

Monday - don't forget Ilford North is canvassing 11am, 2pm and 6pm

Tues 2 May
Custom House, 6.30pm, outside Ibis Styles London Excel Hotel, 272 Victoria Dock Rd, E16 3BY. Contact: Rokhsana or Momodou (note Custom House  stn closed, 7 min walk from Royal Victoria stn.

Weds 3 May
Canning Town South, 6.30pm, corner of Chandler Avenue and Alexander Road E16 4DU, contact Alan

Phone canvassing - 4pm to 8pm weekdays at Labour HQ, Ergon House, Horseferry Rd, SW1P 2AL

Please let me know if you would be happy to deliver leaflets (and I'll pass your details onto you ward organiser).

Thanks again everyone. Look forward to seeing you over the next few weeks.

Best wishes
Julianne

Julianne Marriott
Vice Chair (Campaigns and Comms) West Ham CLP


westhamlabour@gmail.com  @westhamlabour  f westhamlabour  w westhamlabour.org

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

40% RENT UP - CAN'T PAY - WILL STAY! Message To One Housing Group


Photo from last night's planning and action meeting of the Newham key workers facing massive rent rises by the Charitable Landlord, One Housing Group. The tenants are living in housing blocks that were handed over to the Housing Association in 1997 by Newham Council, in order to provide accommodation for predominantly low paid junior teachers, care workers, health workers, social workers and teaching assistants at reduced rents in order for them to work locally in essential public services. They are now facing huge overnight rent rises of up to 40%. Many of them cannot afford to pay the increases and face moving out of London or even eviction. Some of them have been there for 20 years.

I was there with local Canning Town North ward Councillor, Kay Scoresby, and my fellow West Ham Councillor, John Whitworth, to support the tenants.  There was other supporters from trade unions and local trade councils as well as One Housing Group tenants from other parts of London. 

I told the meeting that I had received yet another grossly inadequate "fob off" response from One Housing to my second letter to them. Our local MP, Lyn Brown, had also received a nonsensical reply to her letter. It is beyond belief that a regulated housing provider refuses to fully respond to questions from elected local and national representatives. 

I made it clear to the meeting that unless I get proper replies to my questions I will have no alternative but to make a complaint to the Housing Regulator. 

At the meeting tenants collectively and democratically decided to continue with the campaign and take things to the next stage. The senior management and Board of One Housing Group have so far ignored their polite requests to meet and discuss the issues with them, so they feel that they have no choice but to escalate their campaign. Watch this space. 

Monday, April 24, 2017

International Workers Day Memorial 28 April 2017 11am Stratford E15


Every year more people are killed at work than in wars. Most don't die of mystery ailments, or in tragic "accidents". They die because an employer decided their safety just wasn't that important a priority. Workers’ Memorial Day (WMD) commemorates those workers.

It is also a campaigning day for improved health and safety at the workplace.

The UNISON London Housing Associations branch and other Newham trade unions will be laying a wreath this Friday 28 April 2017 11am at the memorial at Three Mills Green, Stratford, E15. All welcome.

You can find out more about on the TUC website - https://www.tuc.org.uk/workplace-issues/health-and-safe


Sunday, April 23, 2017

GE2017: West Hammers in Forest Gate South & Ilford North

After a week in North Wales celebrating my Mum's 76th, visiting family (and sneaked in a couple of hill walks) I drove back to London yesterday and today started campaigning in the Ilford North marginal then met up with West Ham CLP officers to agree our campaign plan, timetable and budget.

West Ham members had been out last week on the local campaign trail and in Ilford North on Saturday as well.

I was with our MP Lyn Brown (and Cara - her Labour attack dog) while in Ilford North. The response we got this afternoon in a Redbridge Tory ward was overwhelmingly positive. The current Labour MP, Wes Streeting, who beat the Tories by some 500 votes to take the seat in 2015 was praised by constituents for being an active and hard working constituency Member Parliament.




Saturday, April 22, 2017

UNISON NEC elections finish this Friday 28 April 2017 so get your finger and pen out then VOTE STRONGERUNISON!


Okay, everyone is busy, busy and Easter is not a great time to hold an election but if you are a UNISON member and you haven't voted yet then please get this sorted asap. All ballot papers have to be in by this Friday 28 April. 

If you have not received a ballot paper or have any queries then please ring the UNISON election helpllne on 0800 0 857 857 which is open until Tuesday 25 April.  

Most of our 1.3 million members have not voted yet. The ballot papers are probably on the mantlepiece, kitchen drawer or shelf waiting to be completed and sent off. Please spend 5 minutes to fill out and send!

If you have lost the envelope you can send the ballot forms to "Electoral Reform Services, Ballot Administration Centre, London, N81 1DA" (best to put on 1st class stamp). 

These are my STRONGERUNISON recommendations.

You will have votes depending upon the region you are based in and your employer. 

So if you were a UNISON member in London who is directly employed by a Council you should consider voting for:-

Region 
Greater London
Mike DAVEY Male Seat
Rose MINTI-TUTTON Female Seat
Mitsy HARMON-RUSSELL Female Seat

National
Black Members
Kebba MANNEH Male Seat
Elizabeth CAMERON Female Seat
Manjula KUMARI Female Seat

Young Members (You can only vote if you are a young member)
Andrew ANDERSON General Seat

Disabled Members
Angela HAMILTON General Seat
Kim SILVER Female Seat

Service Group
Local Government
Janet McKENNA General Seat
Peter CREWS Male Seat
Wendy NICHOLS Female Seat
Lynn POULTON Female Seat


other regions and service groups

Region

Eastern
Mark TRASK Male Seat
Sarah CROWE Female Seat
Jean THOMAS Reserved Seat

East Midlands
Chris TANSLEY Male Seat
Nicole BERRISFORD Female Seat

West Midlands
Stephen JONES Male Seat
Eleanor SMITH Female Seat
Carole SEWELL Female Seat
Mary LOCKE Reserved Seat

Greater London
Mike DAVEY Male Seat
Rose MINTI-TUTTON Female Seat
Mitsy HARMON-RUSSELL Female Seat

Northern
Edwin JEFFRIES Male Seat
Josie BIRD Female Seat 

North West
Steph BELL Female Seat
Angela GREENHALGH Female Seat

South East
Steve MILFORD Male Seat

Yorkshire & Humberside
Tony GREEN Male Seat
Linda CROWTHER Female Seat
Jenny MIDDLETON Female Seat
Liz MAWSON Reserved Seat

Wales/Cymru
Mark FISHER Male Seat
Angela ROBERTS Female Seat



NATIONAL  (vote for all)

Black Members
Kebba MANNEH Male Seat
Elizabeth CAMERON Female Seat
Manjula KUMARI Female Seat

Young Members (You can only vote if you are a young member)
Andrew ANDERSON General Seat

Disabled Members
Angela HAMILTON General Seat
Kim SILVER Female Seat

SERVICE Group (you will belong to one of these depending on your job)

Community
Denise CHARLES Female Seat

Healthcare
James ANTHONY General Seat
Gordon McKAY Male Seat
Sinead LIDDY Female Seat
Jenny FORBES Female Seat

Higher Education
Dan BEARD General Seat
Liz BAPTISTE Female Seat

Local Government
Janet McKENNA General Seat
Peter CREWS Male Seat
Wendy NICHOLS Female Seat
Lynn POULTON Female Seat

Friday, April 21, 2017

Vote Labour Llafur - Vote Geraint Lloyd-Williams On May 4



Overshadowed by the General election, local elections will be taking place across the country on May 4th.  My cousins cousin, Geraint Lloyd-Williams, is restanding as a Labour County Councillor in Denbigh, North Wales.  This is from his FaceBook page.

Arosfannau glaw chwarae, rhaid iddo fod yn ŵyl banc yng Nghymru, mae angen taith gerdded er. Nid oedd gennym unrhyw fwriad ar canfasio heddiw, ond cawsom ymateb da ar ddydd Sadwrn, yn gwneud rhannau thaflu bellaf y ward, adborth cadarnhaol da o waith blaenorol a phrosiectau yn y dyfodol os ail-ethol ar Fai 4 oed.

Hefyd mae llawer o ymatebion da ar y ffonau rhag canfasio dros y ffôn, a hefyd am y tro cyntaf drwy gyfryngau cymdeithasol, ond nid yw'n yr un fath â bodloni preswylwyr yn bersonol.
Mae'r tywydd yn esgus da i wneud ychydig o negeseuon e-bost y cyngor a gwaith papur (mast Vodafone arfaethedig) a gorffen gweithio ar daflen arall, beth bynnag sy'n digwydd dwi'n dal yma tan yr 8fed. Mai.

Rwyf wedi chwarae pêl-droed yn Cae Howell, pan na allech weld y bêl gan fod y gwair mor hir, dwi wedi dringo yr hen siglenni, oherwydd bod y bechgyn hŷn wedi lapio o gwmpas y bar uchaf, yr wyf yn chwarae mewn caeau Pillings cyn y tai cyngor diwethaf a elwir bellach yn Bryn Seion eu hadeiladu, es i Gwaenynog ac ysgol Genedlaethol (Ysgol pwll y grawys) yr wyf yn cerdded i Henllan drwy'r crest i fynd i chwarae gyda ffrindiau, yn tyfu i fyny yn Ninbych uchaf oedd y gorau.
Pleidleisiwch dros y bachgen lleol, pleidleisio Llafur, pleidleisio am rywun sydd wedi byw yn y ward am 32 o flynyddoedd ac mae wedi gwneud ei gartref Dinbych am 54 mlynedd, yn pleidleisio Geraint Lloyd-Williams ar Fai 4 oed.

Rain stops play, it must be a bank holiday in Wales, still need a walk though. We had no intention on canvassing today but we had a good response on Saturday, doing the far flung reaches of the ward, some good positive feedback from previous work and future projects if re-elected on May 4th. 
Also a lot of good responses on the phones from telephone canvassing and also for first time via social media but it's not the same as meeting residents in person.

This weather is a good excuse to do some council emails and paperwork (proposed Vodafone mast) and finish working on another leaflet, whatever happens I'm still here until the 8th. May.

I've played football in Cae Howell, when you couldn't  see the ball because the grass was so long, I've climbed the old swings, because the older lads had wrapped them around the top bar, I played in Pillings fields before the last council houses now known as Bryn Seion were built, I went to Gwaenynog and National school, I walked to Henllan through the crest to go and play with mates, growing up in upper Denbigh was the best.

Vote for the local lad, vote Labour, vote for somebody who has lived in the ward for 32 years and has made Denbigh his home for 54 years, vote Geraint Lloyd-Williams on May 4th.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Why Twitter & Facebook do little or nothing about racist and bigoted trolls?


Last night I watched a report on the BBC One Show about the abject failure of super rich social media companies Twitter and Facebook to really tackle online trolling by racists and other bigots.

My local Forest Gate Councillor, 25 year old Seyi Akiwowo, appeared on the programme to talk about the appalling racist, sexist and personal abuse she had received on Twitter following a video clip posted of her standing up to French National Front fascists at a European Youth Parliament meeting. 

Another guest was the father of another young woman who had committed suicide after bigoted Facebook comments about her sexuality. 

The common response by Twitter, YouTube and Facebook representatives on the programme to criticisms about their failure to do anything quickly and effectively is to blame the "community" for not doing enough to self police and that users can have legitimate reasons for being anonymous. 

It is a nonsense to blame victims of criminal abuse for the crimes committed against them and it is just a cop out by the billionaire owners of these companies to wring their hands and do practically nothing.  Why can't someone ring Twitter and speak to a real person about a serious complaint in the expectation that something will be done. It took Seyi 2 days to get Twitter to take down some of the vile comments about her.

While I support the right to privacy (within the law) it is clear that the only reason why these very rich and powerful social media companies do not have effective measures to tackle abuse is the bottom line. They don't want to pay staff to do this. Shame on them!

Check out Seyi on BBC iPlayer The One Show, 19/04/2017: www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b08mh7bl


Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Stronger Unison - Vote Liz & Dan for Higher Education NEC

Okay, we are embarking on the fight of our lives to get rid of the Tories on June 8th, but the UNISON NEC elections are still ongoing and not due to finish before Friday 28 April (which by coincidence is also Workers Memorial Day. Will post invite to Newham event next).

While I don't know Dan (but hear good things about) Liz Baptiste is not only a NEC colleague but my fellow UNISON London Regional convenor & Labour Link activist.