Thursday, November 13, 2008

UNISON National Housing Seminar

I had an early start this morning to take the train to Birmingham for this annual seminar on social housing issues. There were over 120 UNISON members from Council housing departments, ALMOs and Housing Associations from all over the UK.

This is UNISON at its very best. Bringing together union members from different regions and employers, arranging top class speakers while encouraging us to make contacts to share good ideas and experiences.

London delegates sat together for the main speeches and presentations. We then went off to workshops (I went to the Housing association one and we came back into the main hall in the afternoon). I’ll try and post separately on the workshops and sessions I attended.

Housing use to be a political backwater, especially so called “social housing”. The cult of “owner occupation” use to mean everything. Any other tenure was considered as 4th rate. Things are changing.

During lunch time I sat at a table with Edinburgh Council UNISON members, one of whom use to work for the Citizen Rights Office where I first started my “career” in housing. There had also been some confusion during registration since I was listed as being in UNISON Northern region. It turns out there are two “John Gray” UNISON housing activists. I sought him out and met up with my Newcastle long lost cousin. How lucky and blessed the union is that there are two of us! Not least since we both agreed that we can blame the other John Gray for things. We swopped our regional name badges. Both of us are obviously steeped in the finest traditions of British local government.

At the end of the day there was an open forum for comments. I reminded folk about the disgraceful wages being paid to Housing Chief Executives. In particular the £327, 000 being paid to the Anchor Trust CEO (formerly “Help the Aged Housing association”) who is also trying to de-recognise their trade unions. How can these people be so shameless?

I’ll post further stuff as and when. If anyone else who was there wants to contribute then email me.

Picture is of Joseph Chamberlain, the Tory municipal "socialist" Mayor of Birmingham.


Charlie Marks said...

I once found a very good quote from Chamberlain about "free" trade. But can't find it or recall it. He was an interesting figure.

As for housing, it was good to see Margaret Beckett on Question Time last night, rubbishing suggestions that she was about to introduce insecurity into council housing.

Anonymous said...

Housing activist.
You don't make me laugh!
do you have jam on your bread as well.

Anonymous said...

Just how many council or affordable or social housing schemes have Hammersmith Tories started sine they were elected.

Then again wheres Boris promised houses

Tories really care about affordable housing....not

Housing, NHS and Education are Labours core values

lets drop the other rubbish and get cracking - on what we do well

Anonymous said...

Lets get cracking on what we do well? That would be an interesting list...get involved in foreign wars, sex up intelligence dossiers, ruin the economy, ruin pensions, introduce fees for students, lose elections and by elections, fail baby's that require protecting, fail to have debates on wars, prevent protest around Parliament, take sponsorhip form F1 tycoons, fail to bam tobacco advertising,the list is endless...

John Gray said...

Hi anon
Or what about getting rid of - pensioner poverty by pension credits, poverty wages with national minimum wage, investing massive amounts of money in the NHS and Schools, getting rid of dictatorships, safeguarding compamy pension schemes (PPF), introducing Personal Pension accounts for all, reducing the amount of time people have to pay into the NI scheme to gain full state pensions... lot of other things really important to ordinary working people.

Anonymous said...

Or building up debts for our children, dumbing down education, prevailing over a binge drinking culture, paying office workers more in compensation for RSI than soldiers who have their legs blown off in labours disasterous wars...this Govt is a shambles

John Gray said...

Hi anon

Sorry about delay ut you sooo wronggggg