Friday, September 30, 2011

Quarriers Strike Suspended: but still Join STUC Rally Sat 1 Oct in Glasgow

The strike by UNISON Quarriers this weekend over pay cuts has been suspended. This was a decision by the branch committee following negotiations with management.

The STUC rally in Glasgow is of course still going ahead tomorrow so the branch is encouraging members to attend.

Check out details here and transport



Be Strong, Be United, with the strength of over 1.3M  UNISON members behind you. 

Thursday, September 29, 2011

#Lab11 Back home and Vote Yes X to protect your pension

Back home in Newham's "green and pleasant" land after the worlds longest (but cheap) London Midland train journey from Liverpool.

I really enjoyed myself last week. Not sure it was a "great" Party conference but we are in a bit of a silly season at the moment. If the Party announces any "bleeding obvious" good policies this far ahead of an election, then the Tories will simply pinch them.

While the Daily Hates will have plenty of time to simply fabricate the "cost" of any others, while pretending this is all the work of evil union barons. This is pathetic but so true. 

I will post more on conference as and when.  I probably won't report on everything I went to.  Life moves on.

I've come back to find a big stack of leaflets and posters from UNISON urging members to Vote YES to strike action to protect their pensions.  Which I will be taking into work with me.  What is being proposed is not fair or necessary.  It is a tax on (mostly) low paid workers to pay for the excesses of very, very, very rich people.  It is plain wrong.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

#Lab11 Unions21 fringe on Pensions

Yesterday lunchtime (Tuesday) I was a last minute speaker at a fringe on pensions organised by Unions21.  The other speakers were Malcolm Wicks MP, Former Pensions Minister; Mary Bousted - General Secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers; David Pitt-Watson, Hermes (Speaking on Workforce Private Sector Pensions); Neal Lawson - Chair, Compass.

"People need an income after their working lives are over so that retirement can be comfortable and dignified. This fringe event asks how the cost should be shared between government, employer and employee".

Watching yourself on video is always pretty horrible.  Do I really, really sound and look like that? For some reason I called "Defined Contribution" schemes "Direct Contributions".  Hopefully in this case the message is more important then the delivery.  There should be another video clip on my response to a remark Malcolm made about the forthcoming public sector strike ballot which I will try and see if it can be published. 

#Lab11 Labour Housing Group/Co-op/SERA fringe

After the TULO fringe on Sunday I went with UNISON housing members to the Labour Housing Group meeting which was held jointly with the Co-operative Party and SERA.  It was called "Homes for the Future". It was chaired by Jacky Peacock OBE, Vice Chair LHG; Speakers: Alison Seabeck MP, Shadow Housing Minister and Leonie Cooper, SERA.  We were late but listened to the Q&A.   

Alison mentioned that she was looking into whether Council pension funds could be used to fund new homes.  This is a potentially a sensible idea in my view since we need to invest in so called "alternative assets" such as property and it should be a "safe" long term investment ideally suited to help match pension fund liabilities.  This has been talked about for years and should have legs but I think advisers are cautious about such "direct" investment since the days of Arthur Scargill and the Cowan decision.  I think that times have moved on.  This is not an "ethical" investment issue. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

#Lab11 Ed Miliband speech to Labour Conference

This post is out of sequence since I haven’t caught up on Sunday yet neither mind yesterday. I rushed over from the Unions21 fringe on pensions to join the long queue for Ed Miliband's speech as leader to conference. Unlike last year I was able to get in and find a seat. People behind me had to stand on the sides of the hall.

Some first thoughts on (some) of the things he said that I found interesting. I must admit the speech and the chorography reminded me of the GovNet fringe that I went to last night which listed the things he should saying at conference in front of the telly cameras to “reach out beyond the Party” in order to win votes. Such as stressing his personal side, his wife and young family, appealing to the aspirational so-called none “core” Labour vote.

I found his reaffirmation of the plan to make every company agree to an employee representative being on the board remuneration committee good news. But it was the only concrete idea put forward to on how to make the financial service industry change and how he will tax and regulate the “predators” while encouraging the “wealth creators”? I think better governance is also part of the solution.

The pledge on social housing and making it available to those in work or contribute to society is a welcome sign that housing is finally moving up the political agenda. But at the moment we don’t build enough homes to house practically anyone so this needs to be addressed and hard cash put up.

Some people I spoke to afterwards were concerned that he concentrated too much on the vision of getting working class kids into the top elite universities and not enough on getting the vast majority who need access to good apprentices and further education. He has got to be careful about referring to his background. Yes, he is indeed the son of outsiders and went to a comprehensive school but he is not a hoary son of toil.

Yes, we must “invent things, make things and sell real things”, Yes, “you can not trust the Tories with the NHS”, Yes, to change “a safety net full of holes”, Well done to standing up to Rupert Murdoch but who are the “vested interests” in public services? Hmmm – I hope not...

Overall a good speech which if fully implemented when he becomes Prime Minster will make Britain a fairer, more equal, progressive and successful society. Good start - roll on 2015.

Monday, September 26, 2011

#Lab11 TULO fringe

My first event of conference (Sunday) was the TULO fringe.  TULO is the organisation set up by trade unions who are affiliated to the Labour Party. It was packed out with trade unionists who listened to speeches by trade union leaders and MP's.  I had only just arrived from Cardiff and I missed Labour Leader Ed Miliband speech to the meeting which ended just as I walked into the hall.  However, there was tremendous applause for his speech.

I wondered if the media will report this rather than the misrepresentation they made of the last speech he made to trade unions that I heard at this year's TUC Congress?

As he walked out of the room his PA kindly offered to take "a picture". Afterwards I met up with the Unison delegation and some of us went off to the Co-op/SERA/Labour Housing Group fringe.

#Lab11 Labour Party Conference Liverpool 2011

This picture is from the inside of the ACC, Kings Dock, Liverpool next to the conference floor.  I arrived yesterday afternoon from Cardiff after the Unison Community Seminar

The Labour Party conference is a huge event with thousands of people attending.  It is not just about the debates and speeches on the conference floor that you see on the telly.  Meetings and fringes start as early as 8am and go on all day until the early hours.  They are often more interesting than much of conference business.

I am not a delegate for my union or CLP but here in an "ex-officio" capacity as a Labour Councillor which means that I can visit any part of the conference, speak but I cannot vote on motions or take part in ballots.  Not being a delegate gives you more time to spend outside the conference floor.  Obviously this is in my own time and at my own expense.

I hope to blog on conference fringes and debates that I attend at least daily.  Usually the day afterwards. 

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Good Liberal Democrat

This is part of the speech on pensions that Janice Turner gave at a Liberal Democrat fringe event last week called "Pension reform – public, private and state – What’s fair?".  Also at this event was Steve Webb MP, Pensions Minister, Dave Prentis, UNISON and Danny Finkelstein, The Times.  Janice is also the Co-Chair of the Association of Member Nominated Trustees.  In her speech she firstly attacked the pension industry for for doing their best to try and destroy decent company schemes in the private sector. 
"I’ve devoted my spot to talking about private sector occupational schemes, because we’ve got an expert sitting next to me who will be talking about public sector schemes. But as a Liberal Democrat I can’t just say nothing at all about public sector schemes when millions of public sector workers are about to ballot for the biggest day of action since the General Strike.

A hundred years ago, Asquith and Lloyd George brought this country the old age pension and they did it by having the vision, and by having the courage and determination not to back down when the Conservatives insisted that the government couldn’t afford it. A century on and occupational pensions are just as necessary today. We all hope to retire with a pension we can live on, rather than just existing. But most of us aren’t going to get there.

In the public sector the average pension is a mere £7,800 a year, beneath the poverty threshold. The average for women is only half that. There is nothing gold plated about public service pensions. Now more than five million people are being told that the Conservative-led government can’t afford them and are proposing that they move to career average schemes, raise the age that they can retire on it, and link it to the state pension age so that it keeps going up; and cutting their take-home pay by increasing their pension contributions.

All this is on top of the government’s announcement that they were going to switch public sector pension increases to CPI instead of RPI. That move on its own will wipe over £100-billion off their pensions when they retire. £100-billion. The government really hasn’t thought this through. Have they considered the impact it will have on the economic recovery if nearly a quarter of UK households have a pay cut? If 5 million people reduce their spending and increase their retirement saving to compensate that may be enough to slow down the recovery.

It is not true that we can’t afford these pensions. Just like a century ago, the government can afford it, the Tories just don’t want to. They have other priorities like wanting to save rich people from paying the 50p rate of tax. These proposals go too far, they are unfair, this government isn’t listening, and for many people struggling with a pay freeze and spiralling inflation it will force them out of their pension schemes as they cannot afford the pay cut.

And it is wrong to suggest that public sector pensions are unfair to private sector workers. Private sector workers had their pensions savaged by the Labour government but that’s not the fault of ordinary public sector workers. I for one expect the British government to lead by example, to set the highest standards for the way it treats its workforce, and that means safeguarding their pensions.

So yes I believe there is a major crisis in occupational pensions and the government needs to stop trying to make it worse with its proposals for the public sector, and act now to start repairing the damage to private sector pensions".

Saturday, September 24, 2011

“Public Service delivery by the sector, cuts, and the government’s “big society”.

This morning of the 2nd day of the UNISON Community seminar began with speeches by Stuart Etherington, CEO of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, Phil Jarrold, Wales Council for Voluntary Action and Mike Short from UNISON.  Some of the things I found interesting. 

Stuart described the years before recession 1994 to 2008 as a “Golden Age” for the sector. The sector doubled in size and scale. Worth £40 billion. Employed nearly 600,000 workers. The “cuts” he estimated are around £3 billion but are being felt more since easier to reduce spending on the voluntary sector. He described “Big Society” as an attempt by Cameron to distant himself from large scale public spending and a different narrative about society from that of Thatcher. She famously said that there is no thing as society only families and individuals. Cameron says there is such a thing as society but it is not the same as the big state. Interestingly there are no fringes at all in next month’s Conservative Party conference that mention “Big Society”. Problem for Voluntary sector is that they do not have scale or access to capital and are having to sub-contract to “for profit” companies who do. Evidence of predatory pricing by private sector to win contracts.

Phil spoke about a clear divergence policy in Wales. Now the Coalition in Westminster are the opposition in Wales. Labour made it clear that the private sector will not be the main provider of services especially to vulnerable people. “Big Society” is rejected and seen as “toxic”. The Voluntary sector is in the middle between Westminster and Cardiff.

Cuts in Wales are more moderate and measured. Welsh government budget reducing 2.5% in 3 years. Cuts in real terms but nothing compared to England. Lack of inflation uplift means things are beginning to bite. Don't just look at money saved but the value lost if you reduce services. He wants parity of esteem for 3rd sector workforce.

Mike reminded us that if there has been £3 billion of cuts the so-called Government "transition fund" to migrate these cuts is only worth £110 million. 73% of our organisations have lost funding, lost staff and had demand for services increased. The “cuts” are ideological driven. Evidence is that the number of volunteers is falling. If our sector competes with private sector it will be on cost not quality.

Union supports genuine co-operatives that develop organically. Not those that take profits out of services. Health provider “Circle Partnership” may be 49% employee owned but the other 51% is owned by investment bankers.

There has indeed been a Tesco-isation of public services but this has been our members leaving to work for Tesco’s since they pay more stacking shelves than you now get caring for the vulnerable.

I asked Stuart about how Housing Association’s have fared and he said they lost out badly in the last spending review. There was a choice between spending on housing or a new aircraft carrier. Housing lost out. They face significant issues about funding.

Friday, September 23, 2011

UNISON National Community Service Group Seminar: Motion on Pension Strike

I'm in Cardiff for the first ever UNISON Community Service Group Seminar which starts this evening.  The picture is of the statute of Nye Bevan which overlooks Cardiff Castle. The Community Executive met beforehand and passed unanimously this motion.  I attended as a NEC member.


This SGE notes the decision of public sector unions, under the auspices of the TUC, to ballot for a day of industrial action on 30 November in defence of public sector pensions and to get ministers to withdraw their current proposals for change. The SGE also notes that:

· Further consideration will be given to what further action may be appropriate under the auspices of the TUC beyond 30 November if progress is not achieved

· Other unions and organisations will be organising events in the run-up to the day of industrial action

· There will be events organised to involve communities, service users and those not taking industrial action running alongside strike action on 30 November

While welcoming other activities being organised before and alongside industrial action, this SGE endorses the steps taken to prepare for industrial action mandated by UNISON conferences and resolves to support a ballot for industrial action on 30 November, supported by other public service unions, announced at the TUC. This SGE therefore requests the National Secretary to initiate a ballot for strike action on 30 November as provided for within UNISON’s Industrial Action procedures".
It is going to be a busy, busy few weeks.  Ballot papers for strike action will be out soon.  I'll post on the rest of the Seminar over the weekend.

An Evening with Eddie Izzard (and Ken)

On Wednesday I went to a London Labour Party fund raising event hosted by Eddie Izzard for Ken Livingston.  Ken and Eddie both spoke followed by a Q&A. I asked about Boris and his high fare policy for London transport.   Afterwards both Eddie and Ken came around and sat at tables chatting to supporters while signing menus and having their
photos taken with us. See photo

Newham was represented by West Ham MP Lyn Brown and 2012 GLA candidate, Cllr Unmesh Desai. I was pleased to be introduced (but too shy to say anything) to a long time heroine of mine, Jill Morrell. In the blogging world, I saw former Labour list editor, Derek Draper

On our table (bottom left of college) there were mostly affiliated trade unions reps. I sat next to Jessica Asato and we compared notes on our experiences as first term London Councillors. Good and bad. 

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Cable Street 75th Anniversary T-Shirt

Another great t-shirt offer from who are helping to organise the anniversary celebration.

"Seventy-five years ago, 4 October 1936. The people of the East End united to stop Sir Oswald Mosley's blackshirted British Union of Fascists from marching through their community. An estimated 100,000 gathered to prevent this parade of anti-semitic hate behind the slogan 'They shall not pass'.

After hours of confrontation, sometimes violent, centred on Cable Street Mosley was forced to
abandon his march. They did not pass!

Philosophy Football's design is based on the original 1936 street sign for Cable Street. Available from".  Check out events here.  Cable Street veteran Max Levitas  will also be attending.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Eddie Izzard and Ken launch Fairer Fares campaign

"Ken Livingstone and Eddie Izzard will launch a campaign for 'Fairer Fares' today (Wednesday 21st September) following Boris Johnson's decision to increase bus, tube and train fares last week.

Ken and Eddie will call for Conservative Mayor, Boris Johnson, to end his high fare policy which has committed London to 20 years of 2% above inflation fare rises. They will call for a fairer approach to the cost of public transport.

Last week's announcement by the Conservative Mayor means bus, tube and train fares will have risen under Boris Johnson since 2008, including:

• A single bus ticket up is 56%, costing Londoners £260 a year more
• A weekly bus and tram pass is up 47%, costing Londoners £317 a year more
• A weekly zone 1-4 travelcard up 23%, costing Londoners £416 a year more

• A weekly zone 1-6 travelcard is up 22%, costing Londoners £509 a year more

Boris Johnson called these fare increases, ‘fair and reasonable’.

Ken and Eddie will visit Finsbury Park tube and bus station on Wednesday morning to meet commuters and go on to meet students at Bsix college, Hackney.

Eddie Izzard said, "It's the Mayor's job to make transport better for everyone who relies on the tube, trains, trams and buses everyday. Yet Boris Johnson's fare increases threaten to price thousands of Londoners off public transport.

'I think its time for Boris Johnson to rethink these steep fare rises and put Londoners first. His decisions have meant that it now costs two to three hundred pounds more a year just to use public transport.

‘At this time when the cuts are biting and the economy is in trouble, it’s the wrong time to be make the cost living higher for people

It's time for fairer fares in London and a Mayor of London who is on the side of Londoners."

Ken Livingstone said, "With the cost of living rising in London, last week's decision by Boris Johnson to increase fares again was ill-judged and unfair to Londoners who need the Mayor to be on their side. It’s increasingly clear that under the Tories, Londoners are less well off with every day that passes.

'The Conservative Mayor must put Londoners first and rip up the commitment he has signed that fares will rise above inflation for 20 years."
Nuff said...

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Battle's of Matewan and Blair Mountain

Hat tip to Andy Newman at Socialist Unity for this remarkable post on 1920's bloody shoot outs between West Virgina coal miners and Company strike breakers.  The clip is from the 1987 film by John Sayles.

We have this image of a capitalist and conservative America, especially in the "West".   While I remember being astonished by Paul Mason's (BBC Newsnight Editor) book "Live Working or Die Fighting" about just how radical the Labour movement in the United States of America use to be. 

I also recall one of the authors of "The Spirit Level", Professor Richard Wilkinson at this year's UNISON conference being asked a question about what reaction they got when they visited the United States (which gets a lot of stick in their book because of its huge income inequality).  He replied that the US is such a divided society that they have always had a really positive reception on their book tours and lectures.  So there is still support out there for "radical" policies. 

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Abbey Gardens Harvest Festival 2011: What will the Harvest be?

Yesterday afternoon I was judging the "best vegetable sculpture" and the "best sport themed cake competition" with my fellow West Ham Ward Councillor, Freda Bourne.  We were at the Abbey Gardens Harvest Festival.

In the best traditions of any British outdoor event, it of course poured down with rain, then cleared up with sunshine, before pouring down with rain again. No one seemed that bothered. The children seemed to relish the weather.

Check out the remarkable history of Abbey Gardens "a community garden in West Ham surrounding part of the ruins of a 12th century abbey" and the "Plaistow Landgrabbers" here, here and photo here.

(double click photo to bring up details)

TUC Congress 2011: Latin America Solidarity Reception

Sorry this is late. On Monday after close of Conference I went to the fringe "Defending Progress and Fighting for Justice". The speakers: were Esther Armenteros, Cuban Ambassador; Samuel Moncada, Venezuelan Ambassador; Guisell Morales-Echaverry, Charge d'Affaires, Nicaraguan Embassy; Billy Hayes, CWU and JFC chair; Len McCluskey, Unite and Christine Blower, NUT who chaired.

Christine reminded everyone that the previous day (September 11) was not only the anniversary of the 9/11 atrocities but was also that of the 1973 Chilean coup d'état that overthrew the democratically elected presidency of Salvador Allende. A military junta led by Pinochet. This event "politicialised" many people at the time. In his speech Unite General Secretary Len McCluskey (left) remembered being a young trade union activist who campaigned against the Coup.

Refreshments were provided, including Havana Club rum cocktails and Colombian beers. I couldn't stay since I had to leave to go to the London Labour Housing Group AGM.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Newham Compass: Secure Affordable Homes for All

On Tuesday 18 October at 7.30pm Newham Compass is holding a debate entitled "Secure Affordable homes for all. A policy for the next government".

This will take place at the headquarters of East Thames Housing Association in Stratford, 29-35 West Ham Lane, E15 (less than 10 minutes from Stratford bus and railway Station, E15)

Whose CEO, June Barnes will take part with London Assembly member Nicky Gavron and Eddie Benn from
Carpenters TMO.

(double click flyer to bring up detail)

Friday, September 16, 2011

TUC Congress 2011: Unions21 Fringe on The Future of Union Image

Union21 used this fringe to launch a viral recruitment video which I missed but I was present for a panel debate on “The Future of Union Image”. The panel included left to right Captain SKA (producer of this music video); Kerry McCarthy MP, Sue Ferns (Chair), author David Seymour and Luke Crawley (Bectu assistant general secretary).

Luke warned unions from using too much jargon, and did not accept that unions need to change their image; the real problem is the barrage of anti-union propaganda in the media. Even the Guardian and Observer are “ambivalent” and join in the attacks when the unions threaten action. Unions need to prove to potential members that they can win or protect things such as the recent success Bectu have had using the National minimum wage. 

David Seymour (author of “Why join a Union”) spoke next and countered that the unions have always had a bad media image. Even the old Daily Mirror was anti-union at times. Unions don’t understand that their members have changed. They use to be predominately blue collar men. They are now predominately white collar and middle class. Unions think that they are still “red in tooth and claw”. The “Bob Crow” image is the one people have of unions and industrial action. Need to find new ways of taking action short of strikes and build solidarity with consumer and workers.

Kerry agreed that the government and the media distort the image but the unions must look to themselves as well since too often the image of the union is macho, aggressive and not friendly to women. Trade unionists are members but also consumers – they should be treated in the round. In recent successful campaigns she took part in a care service was kept in house because the union got the relatives of clients to speak out.  

Captain SKA has only recently joined a union. He is a professional self employed musician and producer. He produced the “Liar, Liar” video for only £300 but it took lots of favours from his friends in the industry and it swallowed up a huge amount of time in promoting before the unions stepped in to help out. He had not been politically active at all beforehand but had been to well supported music concerts in Europe in the past which had been organised by political bodies but had not been overtly political events. He is surprised that there is not more opposition to this government by musicians. 

I thought that this panel debate on the union image was really interesting but we ran out of time and I had to run off back to attend Congress before the Q&A and so was not able to ask the “bleeding obvious” about what Unions should do when faced with an ideological attack against their members by an employer who refuse to engage or bargain in good faith (public sector pensions?).

There is surely simply no alternative to strike action over such a matter of serious substance when all possible alternatives have been exhausted and members are up and able for a fight.   In these circumstances it's the same now as it has always been.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Pensions strike Ballot: "enough is enough"

UNISON General Secretary Dave Prentis tells it as it is about why the unions are calling a strike ballot to protect pensions.  "We hope for the best but are planning for the worse.  A last resort... only if negotiations break down.  First Day of Strike Action planned for 30 November 2011.

London Labour Housing Group AGM

On Monday evening after TUC I went to the first annual general meeting of the London branch of the Labour Housing Group (LHG). The LHG is a Socialist society affiliated to the Labour Party concerned with Housing. The meeting took place in the House of Commons and was chaired by Steve Hilditch. The room was full.

Steve welcomed everyone. He reminded us that 300 people turned up to first open meeting of the London branch which shows how important housing is in the capital.

London Assembly member for Housing, Nicky Gavron introduced the LLHG report “Housing Policies for London”. Nicky spoke about the need to defeat the Tories and elect Ken. Boris is working hand in glove with the government and has given the green light to his Tory friends to get rid of social housing in London.

The guest speaker was John Cruddas MP. Jon was open about the failing of the Labour government over housing. It did a lot of good things but while he understood Labour policy over health and education he never did on housing. It is strange that housing is so important in MP surgeries but not a tension in Westminster itself. Housing did not even feature in Tony Blair’s first cabinet. There is some evidence that housing is moving up the agenda. He made an interesting point linking housing to the financial crisis due to the need to produce complicated financial products that resulted in sub-prime investments. He is thinking about affordable rent models that will also house families who would not be entitled to Council or housing association homes - with different levels of rent. The housing crisis does give opportunities to try new things.

Next was an opportunity for those present to make their contributions and share their experiences on Housing policy. Clive Efford MP turned up to listen as well. There was the usual grass roots Labour Party robust exchange of views. Many had passionate and very personal views on housing in London. My contribution was that we must firstly all work together to get rid of the Tories starting with Boris  before we can get anything done.

The meeting was I thought another successful milestone for the new branch. We now have a committee made up of tenants and leaseholders, Councillors, housing workers, academics and many other ordinary members of the Party who want to do something about housing. Putting the housing world to rights continued afterwards in the St Stephens Tavern.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

TUC Congress 2011: Pension Strike Ballot on!

Congress has just voted unanimously to support Composite 5. UNISON General Secretary proposed the composite and in his speech  announced that UNISON (and the other public sector unions) will be writing to over 9000 employer’s that they will be balloting for strike action over pensions. Over one million UNISON members could be called out.

Dave reminded everyone that the average pension for women workers in Local Government is only £59 per week. The 57% increase in pensions is a tax on public service workers who have saved for their future. Not a penny of these rises is going to the schemes but to the treasury to pay for the deficit created by the failure of the banking system. Enough is enough. The unions will still negotiate anyplace, anytime and anywhere but it is now the time to take our stand. It will be hard and we will be attacked and vilified. Now is not the time for gesture politics or hollow rhetoric.  We are determined, we are united – fighting for what is right, fighting for our members: Hands off our pensions!'."

There was a standing ovation for Dave when he finished.

Barnet lockout, strike and lobby

The title of this post could have been "Big guns target Barnet" (I'll explain later). I left the TUC conference a little early to get to Hendon Town Hall to join the UNISON lobby against the Tory plans to privatise 70% of the staff employed by Barnet Council. 

Earlier in the day, the incompetent and completely daft, Barnet senior management team had decided to send home all workers who came into work in the morning while planning to strike in the afternoon.  This meant that the employer employed 19th century bully boy employment tactics and "locked out" its workers and prevented them from providing a service.  They turned a half day strike into a full day?  I thought managers wanted to avoid strike action!

At the rally there were a number of speakers.  Pickets reported back and messages of support were read out (including from our General Secretary Dave Prentis).  Local residents, activists from UNISON and other unions spoke in support, including London Regional Convenor Gloria Hanson (see picture) and the Regional Secretary, Linda Perks.  The rally was also a lobby of a meeting of the full Barnet Council.  Barnet Council Labour Group had tabled a motion calling for the end of the "One Barnet" Easy Council policy.  Deputy Labour Leader Barry Rawlings (former NUPE steward) spoke to the rally about their motion.  Well done to the Branch, the pickets and to John and Helen for a successful strike and rally.

(According to my esteemed NEC colleague the Ship on the London UNISON regional banner seen behind Gloria is the Battleship HMS Belfast which is moored in the Thames.  For some reasons the Guns of HMS Belfast are always pointed towards the London Borough of Barnet!).  Stop press  Barnet Labour Group walked out of the Council chambers last night when the Tories refused to allow them to debate their motion.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

TUC Congress 2011: Captain SKA - Liar Liar video

Yesterday I went to a Unions21 fringe.  Captain SKA himself was a panelist.  I haven't managed to post on this fringe yet but I thought I will repost his great video anyway.  The best £300 ever spent.

TUC Congress 2011: Ed Miliband Speech to conference

The press pack and TV cameras were out in force and the hall was full first thing - so you knew that no matter how worthy the order of business was that morning that something else was happening.

The Leader of the Opposition and the Labour Party, Ed Miliband MP had come to give the annual address to conference.

It was at times a bit of roller coaster reception for him. Mind you far more applause than heckles. A very self confident and assured presentation that just about managed (I think) not to condemn future strike action over The “cuts” and Public pensions as a last resort but did criticise the recent one day strike on the grounds that negotiations were still ongoing. He is one of those very annoying people who can make long speeches with only occasional glances at his notes. He is more thick skinned than I thought. He thinks he is right, he expected to be given a hard time at Congress and while he hopes he can persuade us that he is right, if not, so be it.

He’ll now be able to show the Daily Hates that he can stand up to the unions while still come up with some potentially radical “Red Ed” policy statements. He will resist any attempt to break the Labour Link to the trade unions; The Tories have forgotten you cannot cut your way out of a recession; every large company should have a employee representative on their Board’s remuneration committee; those who caused the recession should pay their fair share; further Bankers tax and Yes to a (Robin Hood) Tobin Tax.

It’s the “shared values” and “there is more that unites us than divides us” that was his key message to this audience. Especially when compared with his examples of Tory shared values – cuts that are too far and too fast while they chomp on the bit on tax cuts for the rich and making it much easier to sack people.

I think he got the message back in the form of the question to him from UNISON delegate Mary Locke.  "Public sector workers feel that they are under attack from all sides - jobs cut, pay frozen and pensions worsened. A lot of the time it feels that we get a worse press that the bankers who caused the economic crisis. Many of us here have always stuck by the party. So, what can Labour do now in Parliament and in the media to stick up for us?"

Monday, September 12, 2011

Barnet UNISON Strikers face "lock out" threat by Tory Council

Good luck to the 400 Barnet Council UNISON members who are going out on strike tomorrow
afternoon over the potential privatisation of all Council services. 

The Tory Council is now threatening to send home workers as they arrive at work in the morning if they are going on strike that afternoon. In effect they are imposing a "lock-out".

Linda Perks, UNISON London regional secretary, said:

“Barnet Council continues to push through reckless plans that gamble with the future of hundreds of staff and the vital services they provide.

“The response from the council to the action has also been disgraceful, as they are now threatening to send workers home without pay if they do not work the full day.

“A week ago, UNISON presented council bosses with a report that highlighted the potentially devastating impact of outsourcing on staff pensions, terms and conditions and on job losses.

“A report by the council also raised concerns about how well existing contracts are being run. It flouted its own contract procedure rules by paying more than £1million to a private company without background checks - this is unlikely to be a one-off.

“A huge amount of money will be wasted during the procurement process through payments to consultants, shareholders, and in contract costs. This cash should be invested in local people and in keeping vital services running.

“We are calling on Barnet Council to listen to staff and the union’s concerns. Barnet council workers do not take action lightly, and it could be avoided if the council put a stop to its devastating plans.”

Send messages of support to Barnet UNISON and there is a lobby of the Council meeting at Hendon  Town Hall tomorrow (Tuesday 13th) 5.30pm to 7.30pm (nearest tube: Hendon Central on the Northern Line) which I hope to attend.

TUC Congress 2011: UNISONActive take on TIGMOO

Naughty but nice.. Check out this UNISONActive post on Congress.  "All aboard the TUC Battlebus - Destination unknown". 

TUC Congress 2011: Composite 4 Alternative Economic Strategy

This was the excellent speech by UNISON delegate Ian Fleming in support of Composite 4 "Alternative Economic Strategy".  "Congress, we all know that there is a better way, not to cut, cut, cut, but to stimulate economic growth and develop jobs and skills.

Falling living standards for working people are the pay freezes and pay cuts we’re seeing across public services. This problem is being felt particularly acutely in the community and voluntary sector. UNISON has 60 thousand members in that sector, who provide essential services to vulnerable people and groups. For years they have been under pressure, as the commissioning and procurement system forces organisations to cut costs to a bare minimum in order to survive. Pay is forced down, the quality of services suffers, and much of our sector’s expertise is being wasted.

It is years since most of our members in the community and voluntary sector have had any sort of pay increase. Indeed, many charities are now cutting pay. UNISON members in Quarriers, a charity which supports young people, were forced to take industrial action last week, in response to pay cuts of between 10 and 23 percent, and the employer’s complete refusal to engage in constructive dialogue. Members in the Ekaya Housing Association have been hit with pay cuts, and other reductions in terms and conditions, which equate to between 35 and 58 per cent loss in pay.

Other employers are using these tough times as cover for cutting a range of conditions and freezing pay. Employers are reducing redundancy arrangements – to make it cheaper to cut jobs. And many are cutting maternity, paternity pay and annual leave. The effects on individual workers and their families are profoundly worrying. UNISON recently researched the affect of the cuts to our members and their families and worryingly it shows that people’s health is suffering. One person who was interviewed said that she felt suicidal as a result of the impact the cuts were having on her ability to provide a service. Bullying is an increasing problem and pressure is mounting on many middle managers to produce results with half the numbers of staff. Our members reported struggling to afford the basics for their family – food, energy, petrol and transport. So the cuts, and many employers’ response to them, is causing a real fall in living standards. Low paid workers, providing essential services in our communities, will be made poorer by having their pay cut. And unemployment is rising, as employers cut jobs so as to retain contracts. Society is becoming less equal.

We all know this was created by the financial institutions and we know that there needs to be tighter control, regulation that protects the tax payer with more transparency and reporting mechanisms.  We need to focus on opportunities for young people, but we also need to ensure that’s not at the cost of our other members.
Many apprentice schemes are being used in restructures to backfill permanent positions after staff are made redundant - the purpose of apprentices is to give them the universal access to education and on the job training not to absorb the work of redundant staff. Congress, we need to promote this alternative economic strategy in the workplace with business, public services and the grass roots of our communities.

Support the composite and let’s makesure that government and their opposition produce active industrial policies not like the recent employers charter but something which will stimulate economic growth and safeguard and develop jobs and skills for the future.

TUC Congress 2011

I’m here at Congress House for the TUC Congress 2011. I am a member of the UNISON delegation from the NEC. This is the first time I have been a delegate to conference although I did go as a visitor a few years ago. I’ll try and post as often as I can during th enext few days. The TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber was the first speaker (see picture).

He spoke about the history of this building which was bought as a home for the TUC for £25,000 during the Second World War on a 999 year lease. This is the first Congress to be held in London since 1902. Two years previously the Labour Party had been formed. He condemned the recent riots and pointed out the vast majority of victims were frightened ordinary people in working class communities. The cuts are not to blame for the riots but is obvious that they will make the underlying causes worse. The government says nothing about the morale disintegration of the rich. The super tax breaks that steal from hospitals and schools.

The cuts are “hurting” but are not “working”. In America the President has a new initiative to promote growth but is being opposed by the republicans. It is about time that the Tea Party crazies woke up and smelt the coffee. Growth is the answer to the deficit. The government is putting the long term pension security of public sector workers at risk for the short term cut in the deficit. Brendan called for affiliates to help form a mass movement for an alternative that no government cam ignore and build on the diversity of anti-cuts campaign.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

My Taid in the Trenches

I was really pleased yesterday to receive this photo from my Auntie Diane in South Wales (via my Auntie Rose in North Wales).  On the back she had written "Taid as a young man in the Trenches". 

My maternal Taid (Welsh for Grandfather) Frederick Matthews, is sitting on the left of the picture alongside an unknown soldier. The family believe it is from First World War, during which he served in the Royal Naval Division in France and Gallipoli.

There are only two photographs of Taid that have survived from this time, so I assume that the Soldier he is sitting with must have been a good friend. They seem very relaxed and comfortable together. I wonder who he was and what happened to him?

She also sent me the original Apprentice Indenture dated 7 February 1910 that my Taid and his father signed with the Uskside Engineering and Rivet Company. Which is an equally fascinating piece of Labour history which I will post upon another time.

Wedding & Walima Ceremony of Forhad Hussain & Shamima Akhtar

This afternoon I went to the Wedding and Walima Ceremony of Forhad and Shamima in High Rocks, Tunbridge Wells.  Forhad is a fellow Labour Councillor in Newham and also an UNISON member (project officer for a central London hospital).

West Ham MP, Lyn Brown, was also a guest.

This is the first Muslim wedding I have been to and was most impressed. It was a colourful, friendly, good humoured family oriented event with lots of lovely food.  I enjoyed watching the traditional banter between the groom's and bride's family when Forhad arrived at the venue and he was initially refused entry. 

The religious service was quite short and repeated in Arabic, English and Bengali. 

Many, many thanks to Forhad and Shamima for a wonderful day and to their family who worked so hard to look after us all.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

BBC visits Housing Association Branch Office over TUC Pensions

Last week the BBC sent a camera crew to interview me at our UNISON branch office over pensions and to take some outdoor background pictures.  Branch employees Nazan and Sarah are 3rd and 4th from left.

This TV report of course may well be bined and not used.  The crew themselves were very friendly and extremely professional

Next week is the Trade Unions Congress 2011 and I will be attending for the first time as a delegate from the UNISON NEC. 

Protecting members Pensions will be a key issue at Congress. I'll try and post on Congress as often as I can.

Good News for Newham

Yesterday I went for the first time on the new Docklands Light Railway line from Canning Town to Stratford International Station.  It opened last week and is a great step forward for the whole area.  The 6km £211 million route has 4 brand new fully accessible stations which also connect five London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic venues.  In is particularly good news for West Ham ward since two of the stations are right next to the ward boundaries.  From Stratford International you can be in St Pancras in under 10 minutes. Eventually (fingers crossed) you will be able to pick up the Eurostar from Stratford.

Also, last week I went on another tour of  Westfield Stratford City.  Only a few weeks ago it was a building site and we had to wear safety helmets and boots.  Now the shops are being fitted out and you could walk around in normal clothing.  The new shopping centre (the biggest in Europe with 300 stores) opens this Tuesday.  Today, by coincidence, I had to go to Ilford to visit the nearest Marks and Sparks.  The Shopping centre in Ilford is a fairly pleasant enough location and I wish it well, but I really pleased that Newham will now have a world class shopping and leisure facility which will also provide thousands of jobs and careers for local people. Double click photos to bring up detail.

(Oh yes, isn't there is some sort of sporting event going on in Stratford next year as well? :)

Friday, September 09, 2011

"Something radical" Housing Policy? Shadow Minister speaks to Branch Labour Link

s.On Wednesday evening the Labour Shadow Minister for Housing, Alison Seabeck MP, was the keynote speaker at the annual meeting of
UNISON Housing Association branch Labour Link. This took place in the House of Commons.

UNISON National Officer, Mike Short, spoke first about how some employers (not all) are using the "cuts" as an excuse to attack their own workers while others are trying to invent "creative" reasons to evade their responsibilities under TUPE transfers.  Not only are jobs, pay and conditions under threat but also even union rights to organise and defend their members.  We need to campaign, regionally and nationally, against government policy with local community groups.  Win the argument with the public that we are not to blame for the deficit.

Alison Seabeck is of course a politician but also a widely respected housing expert, unlike her floundering ministerial opponent.  She spoke for 10 minutes then rushed off and voted against the (awful) Tory Coalition "Health and Social Care" Bill before coming back to continue.  The single most interesting thing (amongst many) that she said, in response to a question about what a future Labour Government would do over housing, was once in power, the housing crisis could be simply so profoundly bad that "we may have to do something radical..." and similar to the what was done "after the Second World War" do deal with the crisis. 

Bring on that Labour Government!

There was a lively Q&A with Alison, members bringing up problems in the sector for workers and residents.  I asked a question about low pay and the unacceptable level of top executive pay in our sector, using the example of the strike the previous day by UNISON members in the Scottish Charity "Quarriers" (who are facing up to 23% cuts in wages).  I pointed to research in "The Spirit Level" that unequal societies are destructive for everyone and that the same principle would apply to unequal organisations. Alison was I think genuinely horrified at staff wages being cut.  She also agreed that excessive pay for executives  was wrong and that as a start, all such employers should publish the salaries of everyone in their organisation and this may shame them into doing something about it.  She brought up the example of her own Constituency in Plymouth where the Tory City Council is trying to trying to cut the wages of its workforce and de-recognise UNISON, while its own Chief executive is paid huge amounts of money.

After the meeting, some of us went off to the Red Lion pub in Whitehall to continue to put the housing world to rights, where we met UNISON and TULO activists who had just come back from the candle vigil for the NHS.  (Picture of Alison 5th from left)

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Quarriers..."a charity that is going to make the workers children, the poorest children"

YouTube of the rally in Glasgow on Tuesday following the unprecedented strike by UNISON members in Scottish "Charity" Quarriers, who are facing massive cuts to their pay and conditions. Ironically a Charity that was formed 140 years ago to tackle child poverty will now expect its workers to bring up their children on poverty wages.

Last night at the House of Commons, member's of UNISON Housing Association Branch Labour link lobbied the Labour shadow Housing Minister, Alison Seabeck MP on the battle Quarriers members are fighting in order to preserve their livelihoods.

Hat tip to "UnionNews reports from Glasgow as hundreds of UNISON members at one of Scotland's largest social care charities, Quarriers held a day of strike action on 6th September against pay cuts of up to 23%. Campaigners from other unions and anti-cuts groups say Westminster, Holyrood and local government cuts risk damaging services provided by those who care for some of the most vulnerable people".

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

...the end of the NHS as we know it...

This evening there was a candle vigil outside the House of Commons to draw attention to the potential
destruction of the NHS by this Tory led government. In particular the removal of the private patient cap and the threat of privatisation.

The Health and Social Care Bill was given its 3rd reading and will now go on to the House of Lords. UNISON General Secretary Dave Prentis had warned Lib Dem MP's that by voting for this bill they will find their party out of power for a

"Our candlelight vigil marks the end of the NHS as we know it.

“Despite the denials, this government is throwing the door wide open to private companies, who will cherry pick profitable parts of our NHS, and make a fortune. We know that talks have already taken place with a German firm company about running 10-20 NHS hospitals".

I missed the vigil since by coincidence, I was chairing a meeting of my Branch Labour Link members at the Commons with shadow Labour Housing Minister, Alison Seabeck MP and UNISON National Officer Mike Short (I will post on this meeting later).  She had to dash out of the meeting for 10 minutes in order to go and vote against the Bill.  Afterwards, on the way out at the foot of the stairs from the committee rooms, we passed the statue head of the NHS founder, Aneurin Bevan.   I was reminded once again of his argument that "The NHS will last as long as there are folk with the faith to fight for it".

UNISON Quarriers Strike to Protect Staff

UNISON members in the social care provider "Quarriers" which is one of the biggest Charities in Scotland, went on strike yesterday over management plans to slash pay and conditions for staff.

"The package of cuts means more than 560 staff would have their pay cut by 10% while others would lose up to 23% under the plans.

There are also proposals to cut sick pay, increase pension contributions and see other protections removed.  Stephen Brown, branch secretary of Unison Quarriers, said: "Taking strike action isn't a decision we've taken lightly and we want to be back at work doing what we do best - providing vital services to some of the most vulnerable people in society. The cost of utilities, food and transport are all going up and yet Quarriers expect our staff to take a pay cut of up to 23% in some cases".

Quarriers management had even refused to go to ACAS to try and resolve the dispute.  After the overwhelming strike ballot in favour of strike action they agreed to go to ACAS at the last minute but refused to suspend their plans until after this meeting. Which seems pretty pointless and an act of bad faith.

Stephen Brown is also the chair of the UNISON Community Service Group (I am a NEC member for Community). He is one of the most sensible and thoughtful trade union leaders about and I hope that Quarriers management will get their act together and talk to UNISON and get this matter sorted out.
(picture from strike rally in Glasgow)

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Protecting Your Pension from Tory Dummies

Well done to Barnet Local Government branch and UNISON for commissioning an independent report on the threat to pensions and the likely huge cost to Council taxpayers from Tory policies. Local and national.

First Actuarial LLP warn that the Tory led government plans to increase contributions to the Local Government Pension Schemes (LGPS) by up to 50% could cause many council workers to leave. They will simply not be able to afford it anymore, especially after years of no pay rises, tax increases (and high inflation).

While Tory "easyjet" Barnet Council are trying to outsource nearly all its services.  This will result in even less active members of the scheme.

The government is considering getting rid of Labour's "Fair Deal" for pensions and banning Council workers who are outsourced from being in the LGPS at all.

What this collapse in scheme membership could mean locally is that the pension cash flow in Barnet Council will move from being £22.9 million per year in the black to being £25 million in the red! With fewer contributors to the pension this could double the fund deficit. This will also mess up the investment strategy and make the scheme pull out of equities and pursue a low growth policy. Which will make funding even worse.

Barnet has already had to pick up a bill for £1.4 million in June this year after a private contractor went bust. More outsourcing, more risk to the scheme.

Barnet is of course a rabid Tory borough but all Councils potentially, face huge potential financial problems from these policies. If the Government goes ahead and forces pension contributions to rise by a half and the outsourcing of services and workers continues, this will dramatically increase the risk and cost of the pension fund (to Council taxpayers).

The LGPS protects millions of ordinary working people from extreme poverty in old age. The Tories, locally and nationally, risk destroying it.

(BTW shame that someone did not check the facts and even used this report to attack their own union! not that I'm surprised...)

Monday, September 05, 2011

Labor Day 2011

Today is Labor Day in the United States (and Canada). It is still a Federal national holiday. The trade union website Labourstart marked the occasion with a request for support by US workers who are seeking a recognition agreement from T-Mobile USA. This company is owned by Deutsche Telekom who like many European companies have good relations with unions at home but allow "threats and scare tactics to block" their US workers joining a local union. Send off a message of support here.

Also Labourstart linked to this feature on the "10 Top Labor Days Songs".  My favourite choice was number 4. Tennessee Ernie Ford, “Sixteen Tons”. Enjoy.

John Gray says Marx was right

Well, not this John Gray, nor this one, or that one and certainly not this one.

It was actually this John Gray (and he argues somewhat persuasively that Marx was right about the self destructive nature of capitalism but wrong about communism being the answer). 


(Picture here - hat tip to a Facebook friend who thought it was me on Radio 4 yesterday discussing this argument :)

Sunday, September 04, 2011

"The Tory-led Health Bill is a deadly threat to the NHS that we know and love"

This has been the "Big NHS Weekend".  Up and down the Country the Labour movement has been out campaigning against the Tory led Health and Social Care Bill.  It comes back to the House of Commons this week for its 3rd reading.  Yesterday we had Labour Party and affiliated trade union street stalls in Stratford and East Ham. 

We handed out leaflets produced by TULO that the "NHS is not safe" in the hands of Cameron and Clegg.

Colleagues in East Ham reported that people were reticent to accept this leaflet at first since it had Cameron's face on it!

Picture is of our local City and East GLA member, John Biggs, handing our leaflets in Stratford High Street.  West Ham MP Lyn Brown was also out collecting signatures for the petition calling for the defence of the NHS.   Today there was door knocking canvass teams out delivering the leaflets and asking residents to fill out the petition. 

On Wednesday evening there will be a candle light vigil in Old Place Yard, outside the House of Commons from 9pm to 10.30pm.

Finally on the reverse of the TULO leaflet there is one of my favourite quotations "The NHS will last as long as there are folk with the faith to fight for it" Aneurin Bevan 1948.

e-petition against the change from RPI to CPI

Click on this link here to sign the petition calling for a Parliamentary debate on this change which will reduce the value of your pension by around 15%!  There needs to be 100,000 signatures.  So far (4 Sept)  there are 35,000.

"Many workers in the Public and Private Sector have contributed to their pensions on the understanding that on retirement these Pensions would be increased each April by the preceding September's Retail Price Index (RPI) rate. From April 2011 the Government has transferred these increases to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) measure which in the Treasury's own words " designed to take account of the fact that consumers tend to shop around, switching to cheaper alternatives when prices of similar goods change." This change, which has been introduced in most cases without any prior consultation, will mean a steady reduction in spending power for pensioners as they progress into their retirement. Given the promises that have previously been made, the RPI measure should be reintroduced without delay to ensure that the spending power of these Public and Private pensioners is maintained".

Saturday, September 03, 2011

New NH$

Great new video from "Under government plans, you could be faced with becoming a private patient, or joining the back of an ever-growing queue. Don't let the government put profits before patients. Email your MP and ask them to take action against the Health and Social Care Bill:

Friday, September 02, 2011

Those who think that words speak louder than action

While I am not at all surprised I am still somewhat puzzled about the call for a special UNISON local government conference on Pensions. This is of course only a couple of months after the 2011 UNISON Local Government and National Delegate Conferences.  When pensions were discussed and debated in depth and a number of motions passed.

So why should our precious facility time, resources and money be spent on yet another “conference”? When what we should be actually doing is real practical things in our branches: such as organising and mobilising our members? 

The union position I think is crystal clear. Unless it gets a deal supported by members, the most far reaching and coordinated strike action seen in generations will take place. However, the union will not call for strike action purely to satisfy the fantasies of the ultra left. That way will only result in yet another “Glorious Defeat”. No thank you.

I am also amazed about the sudden “about turn” by many of those who are calling for this conference. Only a little while ago they were arguing for co-ordinated action over pensions across the whole public sector. Now it seems that they want not only individual unions to go their own sweet way but unions could even be split internally over action? This would potentially be disastrous.

My esteemed NEC colleague for Knowall suggests here that I would be opposed to this "conference" idea because I think it would be “divisive” and yet he encourages me to ask my service group to hold a separate conference? 

I have been a member of the Local Government Pension scheme for nearly 20 years. There are many thousands of members in my branch and in our UNISON Community Service Group who are also members of the LGPS.

So our views are valid but what would happen if we did indeed hold a conference and we arrived at a different position from the local government service group? Or if the Health Service Group had yet another position?

While I am sure that there are members who genuinely think that calling for an (unnecessary, divisive and expensive) conference is the right thing, I cannot agree. The time for making speeches and passing motions has ended. We should now not be diverting our time and resources on conferences, motions, amendments, points of order and speeches. Branches should be focused on updating RMS, mapping the work place, educating members, supporting and recruiting new stewards and organising for possible action.

If we don’t do that we could not only lose any ballot but we will inevitably fail to deliver any effective industrial action that really matters.

So please comrades for the sake of our members "actions not words".

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Join the online vigil for the NHS

"As the government's controversial Health and Social Care Bill receives its third reading in the House of Commons, we're standing vigil to show Parliamentarians the level of concern around the country about the threats to our National Health Service.

Please join the vigil online by uploading a photograph of yourself to this site. We'll be combining the pictures into a powerful mosaic image, to use in lobbying Parliament. It only takes a minute from each of us, but will build into something much bigger.

Music: "All Things Being Equal" by Le Emu Tavern"

(my 2 seconds of fame at 1min:38)

London Labour Housing Group First AGM

"London Labour Housing Group First AGM - 7pm, Monday 12 September, House of Commons
Guest Speaker, Jon Cruddas MP

After an excellent launch and a really successful Policy Day, London LHG is firmly on the map and working closely with Ken Livingstone as Labour candidate for mayor. There is a lot to do to make sure that housing is an issue in the mayoral election, to remind people of Ken’s housing legacy and Johnson’s failures. We think that housing issues can have an impact in the election. As well as trying to make sure that Labour has strong housing policies for the election, we also want to encourage as much campaigning as possible in the boroughs around housing issues. 

We have had a great core group of people working on this so far, but we now want to put London LHG on to a more formal footing. We will therefore be holding the London Labour Housing Group’s first Annual General Meeting at the House of Commons, Committee Room 11, at 7pm on Monday 12 September. Our guest speaker will be Jon Cruddas MP, Member of Parliament for Dagenham and Rainham. 

LLHG Executive
The agenda also includes the election of a London Labour Housing Group executive committee. We have agreed that there will be an EC of 15, to be as inclusive as possible. Who can attend?

To attend the meeting, stand for election and to vote you must be a member of LHG. To join LHG you must be a Labour Party member.  To be as open and flexible as possible, you can join LHG at any time – see - and membership forms will be available on the door on the night so you can join and take part immediately. You must RSVP

If you wish to attend you must RSVP to Steve Hilditch at to register your attendance. If you plan to come to the meeting, please allow 15 minutes to get through security.  Please note we are unable to offer refreshments at this meeting.  We do hope you can join us.
Steve Hilditch, Acting Secretary : Nicky Gavron AM, Acting Chair"

Follow Labour Housing Group Website; Red Brick blog Facebook!/pages/Labour-Housing-Group/247469867388 Twitter!/LabourHousing