Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Notting Hill Strikers at Sadiq Khan MP Parliamentary reception.

Last night Tooting MP Sadiq Khan, who is Minister of Transport and an UNISON member held a reception for local trade union members, Labour party supporters and constituents at the Atlee Room in the House of Commons.

There was a really good turn out with over 150 people attending. London UNISON Labour link sponsored the refreshments. Sadiq had invited Deputy Leader Harriet Harman MP, Home Secretary Alan Johnson MP and Youth Minister Dawn Butler MP as guest speakers.

I was there as Vice-Chair of the London UNISON Labour Link committee and had brought with me two UNISON members from Notting Hill Housing Trust who had been on Strike earlier this month. Strike action is unheard of in our traditionally moderate sector yet members voted 93% in favour to protest at their treatment by the CEO who is trying to destroy family friendly policies at Notting Hill and slash basic staff terms and conditions while paying herself obscene amounts of money and perks (such as £11,000 per year car allowance).

Yesterday we learnt from NHHT senior management that its Board have apparently “refused” to even let UNISON speak to them about its concerns and that they support the boycott of requests for mediation with ACAS! If this is true then you have to question why the NHHT Board is apparently so precious that they are not even willing to even listen to their own workforce express concerns that they are being discriminated against and exploited by their senior management.

This is amazing and can only further damage the reputation and image of the wider sector in the eyes of many people.

There was a Q&A after each speech. I managed to ask a question of Harriet and Alan about what is happening in Notting Hill and attacks by its management on equalities. We will be contacting their Parliamentary offices later today with follow up information.

We also discussed the issue with Sadiq (one of the Strikers is also his constituent) who also agreed to contact the organisation once we brief him properly.

The reception itself was very lively and a good cross section of people. There was some rather silly comments made in the Q&A but I enjoyed the “knockabout” soapbox politics. I cannot believe how complacent and petty some people are at the prospect of a Conservative Government. Turkeys clucking for Christmas! The speakers gave some cracking responses. Sadiq was an excellent host and I am sure he recruited many “foot soldieries” (as Harriet put it) to help him win in the forthcoming election.

It was also of course a good opportunity to build on the lobbying work done over the Notting Hill Housing dispute here and here.
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