Sunday, February 28, 2010

UNISON General Secretary Election latest

I received this email today. “Just to let you know that the UNISON Yorkshire & Humberside Regional Council overwhelmingly voted to nominate Dave Prentis as candidate in the General Secretary election.

Paul Holmes who is also seeking nomination and was at the meeting but not in the room at the time also failed later to even get onto the Regional Committee in the General seat elections. He came 16th out of 19 candidates and failed to make any of the 12 seats available.

So some potential General Secretaries can't even get elected to their own Regional Committee never mind nominated!!!”

It’s also good to know that practically the only support for Paul comes from Socialist Worker Party (winning witch hunters faction), Permanent Revolution (ex-posh boys and girls only), the Marxist Voice of Labour and Youth (Saga branch), Jon of the Rogers (trot entryist), Socialist Appeal (please...please can we have a revolution) and Union Futures (for wannabe entryist trots).

nuf said.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

John Cryer selected as PPC for Leyton and Wanstead.

The ballot closed yesterday and the count was today. I got a text at about 5.30pm and heard the news. John won by 38 votes which is a clear margin and congratulations to him.

Former Chair of West Ham CLP Terry Paul came 2nd (see posts here, here and here). I think congratulations are also in order to Terry as well for running a great campaign and if things had had worked out differently he could have won. But that’s history now – there is only one position and only one real winner.

The local Party will now rally around John for the forthcoming real election and I am sure he will do well and retain the seat.

I spoke to Terry just a little while ago and he was obviously a little disappointed but was energetic and enthusiastic as ever. He especially wanted to thank the local members who had supported him.

Next time he stands somewhere it will be different I think.

Congratulations also to Unite’s Jack Dromey who was last night selected as PPC for Birmingham Erdington.

Friday, February 26, 2010

"I've never voted Tory before, but Labour wouldn't give me a safe seat"

Of course, everyone who has had the great pleasure of knowing former Labour Tower Hamlets Cllr “£100k pa thanks to Labour” & GP Anwara Ali (3rd from left next to the posh bloke who is looking distastefully at the shifty looking former SWP/disrespect turned Tory Cllr bloke) thinks she is  someone of utterly high political principals.

So it was such, such a surprise that Anwara has just defected to the Tories.  We would all never, ever, ever think even for a moment that such an utterly outrageous and base suggestion about the ward selection process being the reason is at all true :)

Hat tip thingy Dan McCurry.

UPDATE:  After all this poor old Anwara was heavily defeated by Labour in the election.  Irony of ironies is that if she had stayed in the Labour Party and fought the seat she was offered then she would still be a Councillor. 

Work Your Proper Hours Day - Friday 26 Feb

From TUC Worksmart Site "Work Your Proper Hours Day (26 Feb 2010) is the day when the average person who does unpaid overtime finishes the unpaid days they do every year, and starts earning for themselves. We think that's a day worth celebrating.

Over five million people at work in the UK regularly do unpaid overtime, giving their employers £27.4 billion of free work every year. If you're one, why not take some time to reflect on how well (or badly) you're balancing your life? This is one day in the year to make the most of your own time. Take a proper lunchbreak and leave work on time to enjoy your Friday evening - You deserve it!

Long hours are not good for us; they cause stress; they're bad for our health; they wreck relationships; they make caring for children or dependents more difficult; and tired, burnt-out staff are bad for business.

People do long hours for a variety of very different reasons, and work life balance expert Professor Cary Cooper has helped us put together a long hours clinic tool, to give you tailored advice to fit your own situation.

You can also use our online balance check to diagnose what your workplace's working style is, and then add yourself to our big interactive map to see how you stack up against everyone else. Or just check the map, to see what others have said.

Let your friends in on the act too by downloading posters to print out, sending ecards, or linking to us from your own sites.

Work Your Proper Hours Day for 2010 will be 26 February, but your own pay day may come earlier or later, depending on the hours you work above your contracted hours. Use our online unpaid overtime calculator to find out when you can celebrate paying off your long hours debt".

Thursday, February 25, 2010

UNISON Labour Link West Ham phone bank

This evening after work I helped out at the West Ham CLP phone bank.  Which was being used to ring Newham residents about their views and if they have any complaints about local Council services.

This phone bank was originally sponsored by Greater London UNISON Labour Link.

Pictured is UNISON member, Councillor Joy Laguda who is a former NHS nurse and now the member for Plaistow North ward and the Council Executive Member for Older People and Adults.

Next to her is Alan Griffiths (UNISON Waltham Forest Local Government branch Labour Link Officer and a top local housing worker).

You may recognise some other odd UNISON bod who is about.

Tele-canvassing is very different form of  door knocking. While I enjoy and find fascinating both of these forms of voter identification. I actually think that people are more open and even honest about their voting intentions on the phone than face to face on the doorstep. Tele-canvassing is probably also a more time efficient way for reaching more people.

Yet nothing really beats being “on the knocker” - going door to door and talking to local people.  Such canvassing really demonstrate to a community that their potential elected representatives are real human beings who want to get out to listen and help them.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Public Service not Private Servants

A one-day conference for trade unionists in the SERTUC region with keynote speakers and seminars.

The conference will look at the causes of the current economic crisis; the response of the mainstream political parties - particularly with reference to their public expenditure plans - and the trade union movement to it; exploring the potential for joint campaigning activity within the region in defence of jobs, services and living standards; and the scope for building solidarity at local and regional level when union members are compelled to take industrial action.

Travel: nearest tube: Tottenham Court Road, exit 3

There is no charge to attend this event, but registration is essential.

Campaigning to Defend Public Services
Saturday 6th March 2010
Congress House

9.30 – 10.00 Coffee and Registration

10.00 – 10.10 Welcome and Introduction Martin Gould SERTUC President

10.10 – 11.00 The economic crisis and the public sector Graham Turner Economist and author of No way to run an economy and

The Credit Crunch

11.00 – 12.15 The Trade Union response:

 The Public Sector Context “Speaking up for Public Services”

Megan Dobney SERTUC Regional Secretary

 Civil Service Compensation Chris Baugh PCS AGS TBC

 Higher Education Under Threat Cliff Snaith UCU Regional Secretary TBC

12.20 – 12.30 Introduction to Workshops John Ball SERTUC

12.30 – 13.15 Lunch

13.15 – 14.45 Cross Public Sector Workshops

The aim of the workshops is to update across sectors on the key issues and develop campaigning and organising strategies. For example pay and pensions, what are the key issues in Health, Education, Local Government, Civil Service, Prisons, Fire and Rescue Services, Government Industrials.

 Pay and Pensions Chair: Martin Powell-Davies NUT

 Job and Services Chair: Gloria Hanson Unison

 Equality Chair: Teresa Mackay Unite

 Campaigning and Solidarity Chair: GMB

Lead speaker: Tom Taylor

14.45 – 15.30 Workshops Plenary Session

15.30 – 16.00 Closing Session TUC Spokesperson

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Notting Hill Housing Trust: 93.5% vote in favour of Strike Action.

This is an amazing result and Notting Hill Housing Trust (whose motto is “All Together Better”) should be ashamed that they provoked such a negative response from their traditionally very moderate employees.

Our UNISON Housing Association branch hasn't had its member’s vote so decisively to take strike action for decades. Even the most militant of unions very rarely get above 90% “in favour” of strike ballots.

So what completely crass and objectable management decisions have provoked such a response from its workforce?

Check out the new UNISON Housing Association branch NHHG action blog at “All Together Worse”.

The ballot for strike action has arisen from NHHT imposing cuts to terms and conditions of employment which will have a negative effect on female staff with caring responsibilities (reducing carers’ leave and ending flexi-time). The employer’s own equality impact assessment has acknowledged this but the changes are going ahead anyway. Carers’ leave cost the organisation £30,000 in 2008 which is a small fraction of the Chief Executive’s current salary. Her most recently published salary is £165,868 (2008/2009) which was a 7% increase on the previous year and included a bonus of just under £11,000.

Strike action is very much the last resort. The NHHT Board has previously ignored a 300+ signature petition from staff, a 95% consultative ballot vote in favour of further action by UNISON members and a request to meet with ACAS. There does not appear to be any desire to negotiate by the employer”.

They are also completely slashing existing agreements on redeployment and compulsory relocation protection.

Notting Hill Housing Trust has refused to allow UNISON to meet or even address its Executive Board to try and explain its case. Why are senior management so scared that their decisions will not stand up to the light of day that they refuse to independent arbitration with ACAS (this is the point of ACAS for crying out loud!) or allow the Board to even hear the voices of its employees? I assume that its top “Executive Pay consultants” are allowed to make presentations and recommendations to the Board?

This is all stuff and nonsense. Recently I have had conversations with a number of senior political figures from more than one political parties who privately describe the utter contempt and complete loathing they have for large unresponsive Housing associations who have such poor governance. These views are really troublesome for genuine supporters of accountable and well run Housing Associations

My view has always been that if they treat their staff like rubbish they will treat their residents in the same way.

Please send messages of support to activistsATunisonhablondonDOTorg and to http://twitter.com/unisonhousing and check out previous posts here, here and here.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Gotta a pension? Wanna save the planet? Give just 2 mins to BP & Shell Tar Sands Campaign

A few weeks ago I went to a planning meeting organised by Fair Pensions which was held at Amnesty International headquarters in Shoreditch. Fair Pensions had done an excellent job on organising trade unions, charities and NGO’s to join together in submitting shareholder resolutions at the company AGMs of oil giants BP and Shell over Tar Sands exploitation.

Check out links here why so many think this process is so wrong. In a nutshell it’s ecologically an extremely dubious process to extract oil which will devastate the local environment and result in 3x as much carbon emissions as other sources of oil. Because of carbon emissions costs, reputational risk and legal costs this it is a real potential threat to shareholders investments in BP/Shell. It just doesn’t make sense to continue.

If you have a pension policy you can click here on the Fair Pensions web site and within minutes send an email to your pension trustees asking them to support the shareholder resolutions. I have 4 diffferent pension policies I can chase.

If you don’t have a pension policy then you can email via this site major investors in BP and Shell about your concerns.

Go for it.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

On the knocker in Stratford & Newtown: A future fair for all

Today, I woke up to a very wet and miserable Sunday morning. The words “Oh dear” (or something like that) sprung to mind as I contemplated the pending Sunday door knock. The prospect of soggy canvassers and sodden, illegible canvass sheets is deeply unappealing. I did once remark that politically campaigning is ideally a summer sport which just met with a pretty universal lack of sympathy from across the hard bitten political spectrum.

Yet the rain held off for today’s West Ham CLP canvass with our MP Lyn Brown (2nd right) in our Newham Olympic ward of Stratford and Newtown. We had 4 teams of canvassers out and about in the ward. The polling district we covered was mostly traditional London Railway terrace houses. We had I thought, once again, a very good response.

I very much doubt that many folk had heard that the Labour Party “vision statement” for the forthcoming general election is now a “future fair for all” but funny enough one of the themes that I and others picked up today was that residents were willing to say that they thought “fairness” was a crucial political issue to them.

This is not at all original but how on earth can we have fairness when we have the Conservative opposition promising “swinging cuts” (and worse) in essential public services while at the same time cutting inheritance taxes for the very, very rich?

I think that “our people” cannot abide such blatant unfairness and injustice.

Picture is of local members and Lyn before we went off for coffee and brunch in a Stratford High Street cafe.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Terry Paul for Leyton and Wanstead.



Check out also this and that

Leyton & Wanstead: Vote for the Future (and Fairness for All!)


This afternoon the Hustings took place for Labour Party Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Leyton & Wanstead. As posted last week here I only know one of the candidates - Terry Paul.

Terry has been handing out this Card (see picture) to Party members who have until next Friday (I believe) to return their ballot papers.

On the back of the card there is:-

We have to stop Cameron’s callous conservatives destroying our public services.

We need a new generation of MPs who are passionate about Labour values

Terry, Paul 1”

This afternoon I spoke to some members who were at the Hustings and they thought that Terry gave the best speech and gave the best responses to questions. But they thought it was going to be close.

Terry has posted some YouTube videos here which I will also post later.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Lovely Historic Steyning and …the Welsh Drovers

Slightly off message and continuing on my hobby horse about 19th Century Welsh Cowboys! See previous posts here and here. Just back from a few days R&R in lovely historic Steyning, West Sussex. We hired Holly cottage (which is a 200 year old former stables). Steyning is an ideal holiday location not only for some simply glorious walks in the South Downs.

The owners of the cottage had left some local history booklets which described how in the 18th and 19th Century Steyning use to hold Cattle Fair’s in the High Street.  Up to 3000 Welsh black cattle use to be there up for sale. These cattle had been herded hundreds of miles all the way from Wales usually on foot by drovers.

So instead of feeling very pleased with myself about being completely knackered after a local 11 mile hike on Tuesday around Crissbury Ring and 8 miles over the Seven Sisters coastal path today, I should have thanked my lucky stars that I hadn’t walked all the way from Wales only to then face the prospect of walking all the way back again. Regardless of the weather!

Solely in the interests of objective market research we tried all of Steyning four pubs a number of times and would recommend all of them but in particular the “Norfolk Arms” in Church Street. A completely proper traditional English pub. Full stop.

I’ll post totally “on message” another time about the Steyning riots and the Great Reform Act.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Monday, February 15, 2010

Dear Kate ...letter to CEO Notting Hill Housing Trust

Kate Davies, Chief Executive, Notting Hill Housing Trust, Hammersmith, London, W6 8DL

Dear Kate

Campaign for Dignity & Respect for staff at Notting Hill Housing Trust

I am not easily shocked but I was when I learnt of the imposed cuts to basic staff terms and conditions at Notting Hill Housing Trust. Not only that but the refusal to even negotiate with UNISON over these cuts is also completely unacceptable. Collective bargaining between employer and unions is a basic human right and anyone who believes that merely “consulting” on a “like it or lump it” basis is acceptable good practice is living in the dark ages.

The refusal to agree to allow trade union representation to your board is even more utterly inexplicable. It makes people wonder what on earth you have got to hide?

While the failure to agree to even trying to seek arbitration through ACAS is just utterly appalling and deeply damaging.

Notting Hill used to be a beacon of excellence to the sector. In public housing it also had an incredibly proud history of being a socially responsible landlord. It has now apparently decided to join “a race to the bottom” for their staff while still paying its top tier of management huge amounts of money.

This sort of behaviour not only rots an organisation from within but also causes dismay to those of us who genuinely support accountable and fair Housing Associations. Housing organisations that treat their staff as rubbish will also tend to treat their residents in the same way.

It is no wonder the wider sector has such an awful image problem and so many Housing Associations are so deeply distrusted and disliked (...and I am being very , very “polite” here) by so many residents, councillors, assembly members and MPs of all political parties.

I urge you to reconsider the imposition of such nonsensical and retrograde measures on your workforce. Please just return to the negotiating table and begin meaningful talks.

A strike ballot of UNISON members is taking place following a 95% vote by your traditionally moderate members of staff in favour of industrial action in a consultative ballot.

I pledge my full support to my fellow trade unionists at Notting Hill Housing Group.

Yours sincerely

(will readers please send similar letters to £165K per year Kate and send messages of support to members via infoATunisonhablondonDOTorg   Also CC your letters to your local Cllrs, MP's, Assembly members and MEP's)

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Robin Hood Tax


Better late than never but I will now join on the band wagon and post the excellent Richard Curtis “YouTube” video staring Bill Nighy. Now the idea that a tiny, tiny 0.05% tax paid on certain big money financial transitions could raise £100 billion plus of revenue to “fight poverty, protect public services and tackle climate change” is deeply attractive to all progressives. I would support such an idea unconditionally for this reason alone.

However, the idea has also been supported as a means of discouraging damaging short term speculation and encouraging long term capital investment (Tobin Tax). Which may actually be even more socially progressive than anything even 0.05% Robin and his merry men delivers.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

"Why I’m backing Dave Prentis"

Check out West Midlands NHS Nurse and UNISON NEC member, James Anthony, at his blog James NEC update.  In his post entitled "Who will put members first?" he goes through the arguments why he is supporting the re-election of Dave Prentis as our General Secretary.

I understand that UNISON National Young members have endorsed Dave, so have the Energy Service Group, West Midland Region, Wales, National Disabled members, Scotland, North West Region, Northern Ireland... and loads and loads of branches from all over the place.

Also my fellow UNISON Local government pension activist and top branch rep, Mark Rayner, has posted on UNISONactive about the “lies, damned lies and voodoo” being put about by supporters of ultra left extremist candidates who are putting out their usual sectarian poison (as instructed of course by their Central Committees:).

Finally - Picture credit thanks to Icepicker100.

Good luck Terry with Leyton & Wanstead shortlist

Terry Paul, West Ham Labour Party member (and our former CLP Chair) has been shortlisted to be a Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Leyton and Wanstead. I know a few activists in this neighbouring East London CLP and I understand to him to be one of the “front runners”.

My Labour Party blogging “mucker” Alex Hilton on Labourhome lists the shortlisted candidates here.

John Cryer, former MP for Hornchurch who lost his seat in 2005 and is now political officer for union Unite

Tristram Hunt, historian and broadcaster

Sophie Linden, a Hackney councillor and former special advisor to David Blunkett

Terry Paul, chairman of the West Ham Labour party.

Roxanne Riaz

Ahmed Shazad, a millionaire businessman

I don’t know any of the other candidates and obviously the choice now is with the Party members of Leyton and Wanstead. All I can say is that I have found Terry to be a hard working Labour Party activist. He is a local boy made good; he is very personable, ferociously bright, articulate, passionate about his politics and full to the brim with ideas. I would agree with Alex that he would make a good MP.

Good luck Terry! Hustings are next Saturday to be followed by a postal ballot of all members.

(Picture is of Terry last year on the “dog and bone” tele-canvassing for Labour)

East London Sisters & Brothers in UNISON

Picture is from Thursdays UNISON Annual meeting at Old Ford Housing Association in Bow, East London. It was a really successful, positive and constructive meeting. We elected 4 more UNISON reps to the local organising committee.

We concentrated on real bread and butter trade union issues such as pay, job evaluations, protections, tupe and health & safety.

The campaign for respect and dignity by our branch members in Notting Hill Housing Group was also debated and they were fully supported by the meeting. Their fight is frankly our fight.

In the Labour movement you can become rather cynical and disillusioned about the value of such physical meetings. This one worked. The measure of success being that I reckon members will want to return to a future meeting. We are aiming to have similar local UNISON organising committees in all parts of the wider Group.

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Nasty Party is Back (it has never really gone away)

"David Cameron’s mask finally slipped this week with a deluge of stories – no doubt to the delight of Thatcher and the blue rinse – indicating the nasty party were well and truly back: un-green, mean and ready for inaction..."

Check out this great post at Left Foot Forward.  Nuff said.

...and some folk still say there is no difference between Labour and the Tories?

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Beat the BNP Day of Action this Saturday 13th February in Barking

"Dear Friend, I do hope that you will be able to make our Day of Action this Saturday in Barking. We will be door knocking in a ward where the BNP have two councillors, but which we are confident that we can win back thanks to the hard work of our local action team.

We will be door knocking from 10am-12pm and again at 1pm-3pm with a break for a hot lunch (provided) at 12pm-1pm.

We're based in Becontree Avenue Baptist Church, Dagenham on the day, with lifts from Chadwell Heath Station at 10am and 1pm.

Please give Jennifer or Darren a ring on 07576 323 109 if you need a lift or directions, or alternatively please e-mail jen_oliver85AThotmailDOTcom or barkinglabourcampaignsAThotmailDOTcoDOTuk.

I look forward to meeting you on Saturday.  Best wishes, Margaret Hodge".

(Promoted by Jennifer Oliver on behalf of Barking Labour Party, all at 152 Reede Road, Dagenham, Essex, RM10 8DX)
 
"Hope Not Hate" are also doing work on Saturday in the area but I can't find any links?  Could someone let me know?  

Lindsey German quits SWP before axe: “You saw it here first”!



This apparently is kosher. In a completely weird and wonderful exchange of emails with the thuggish National Secretary of the SWP, Martin Smith and their former SWP “leader”, Lindsey German, who has resigned from the Party. Icepicker100 reminded me that you saw this first here (headphones or speaker on)!

As demonstrated in these emails the SWP and other ultra left Parties believe in what is called “democratic centralism”. This means whatever their Party Central Committee decides, SWP members have to obey. Even if this goes against what is best for the trade union or front (as in this case with Stop the War) they are involved in. German refused to accept what she had been told to do by the SWP central committee so she resigned ahead of being expelled.

Another lovely thing these cults do to their dissent members is to “hammer" (they actually use this word) them out of the Party. This is usually not done physically but rather verbally and emotionally.  This is why Smith deliberately sticks the knife in with the comment about direct debits. 

Still, I have no real sympathy with German since she helped create the monster that has turned against her.  However, this may mean there will be a split in the SWP which should be interesting (abet utterly unimportant and insignificant in the wider scheme of things)

Anyway check out the emails and make your own mind up.

Hat-tip “A Very Public Sociologist” and “Socialist Unity”.  A message for the Left Platform and SWP CC reponse to Left Platform.

1a "Dear Lindsey,

On behalf of the CC, we are repeating our request that you don’t speak at the disputed StW meeting in Newcastle tonight [Wednesday 10th February]. We expect you, like all SWP members, to respect our decisions.

We also think that it is imperative that you meet with members of the CC at the earliest possible opportunity. Could you please give us some dates when you are free.

Martin Smith (SWP National Secretary)

1b Dear Martin,

I asked Judith whether I would be subject to disciplinary action if I went to Newcastle. Your reply is ambiguous on this question. Could you please clarify. The STW meeting is not disputed, as you put it. It was agreed at two Tyneside STW steering committees, despite our comrades raising why I was going to the meeting. I therefore think your request is misplaced.

Lindsey

2a Dear Lindsey,

We have already made our decision very clear to you. If you ignore our request we reserve the right to respond as we see fit.

Martin

2b Dear Martin,

It is clear from your reply that your request is in fact an instruction not to speak in Newcastle tonight at the Stop the War meeting.

I regard such a course of action as damaging both to the party and STW. The meeting is properly constituted as evidenced by two sets of minutes of steering committee. There is no good reason for me to withdraw and none that I could possibly justify to STW members locally or nationally.

I have always tried to prevent internal disputes from damaging the movement. I feel that you have brought these disputes into STW and that is unacceptable.

It is therefore with the greatest regret that I am resigning from the SWP. This is a very hard decision for me. I joined more than 37 years ago and have always been committed to building it, which in my view meant relating to the wider movement.

I was on the CC for 30 years, edited the Review for 20 and played a major role in the movement and party building. My respect and affection for many party members remains, and my commitment to socialism as ever. I hope to continue working with them in the wider movement.

Lindsey German

3a Lindsey,

I acknowledge receipt of your resignation and have amended our records accordingly.

Please note it is your responsibility to inform your bank to close your Direct Debit/Standing Order.

Martin Smith (SWP National Secretary)

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

UNISON Housing Association Annual Report 2009: Labour Link (APF)

"Many Housing Association UNISON activists worked very hard in this year’s Euro-elections for Labour. The possible threat of an elected BNP candidate was seen off in London while Claude Moraes and Mary Honeyball were re-elected as our MEP’s.

This year has been a tough place for Labour.

UNISON wants to make sure that we get maximum bangs for its bucks and there are no doubt hard boiled negotiations going on now about making sure that we have an election manifesto next year that will get UNISON members out to support Labour in the general election and not stay at home.

In the meanwhile the Tories have been showing in my view their true colours. Be in no doubt that according to my crystal ball if they get in next year they will do away with security of tenure, hike up rents to market rates, make massive, massive spending cuts and take privatisation to another place.

The bigger associations could be turned into PLC’s while the rest will only be able to access public funds if they first put out all their housing management services out to competitive tender (that includes you).

In the New Year Housing Minister, John Healey, has agreed to hold a special meeting at the House of Commons for all our Branch Labour Link members. Details to follow. If you are not sure if you are a Labour Link (APF) levy payer please contact me via the branch or ring me".

(date now sorted for Tuesday 9th March 2010 – Labour Link members will receive invites)

UNISON Housing Association Annual Report 2009: Health & Safety

"This year has been dominated by fire safety and Gas deaths. Health & Safety is not only of the upmost importance to every member but it should also be a key organising tool in every workplace.

There can only be an effective safety management system in your workplace if management involve and engage with union safety reps. In most housing providers (not all) the health, safety and welfare of staff (never mind residents) is simply not taken seriously.

Risk assessments are often bought in off the shelf in “paper exercises” that front line staff never see; work related accidents and injuries are not recorded never mind investigated or reported to the enforcement authorities; staff that are physically threatened (or worse!) or seriously abused end up being blamed for not handling the situation better!

Enough is enough. We have greater legal powers and protections for safety reps than for stewards. Become a safety rep; get trained; get on the safety committees; demand consultation rights; regularly inspect all your work places; join the London regional safety rep network".

Anyone who wants to know more about getting involved and making their workplace better and safer let me know via the branch or ring me

(this "call to arms" is in our UNISON Housing Association Branch Annual Report 2009)

UNISON Housing Association Branch AGM (1)

Tonight I attended the first of the four AGMs of my UNISON branch. Since we have members all over London and the South east in order to encourage attendance we hold meetings in South, West, East and central London.

UIA (Union insurance) who are part of UNISONplus services was there with lots of useful information and “freebies”.

The meeting was held in Family Mosaic Housing Association headquarters near London Bridge.

I have been already returned unopposed as the branch Labour Link and Health & Safety Officer.

The Key issue discussed was the Notting Hill Housing Strike ballot (the campaign for dignity & respect - more to follow); other elections; motions on branch levy, donation to UNISON welfare, defending members’ interests, definition of low paid members and campaigning against the BNP.

I found the voting patterns on whether or not to continue with our branch affiliations fascinating.

I made a brief supplementary to my UNISON Labour Link annual report to say that a date has agreed for the Housing Minister, John Healey, to speak to members at the House of Commons has been agreed. It will take place 6-8pm on Tuesday 9 March and all our (1000 plus) Labour Link members will be mailed out invites in the near future. Afterwards we hope to arrange tours of the House of Commons and light refreshments.

I’ll post my Labour Link and Health & Safety officer annual reports next.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Re-elect Dave Prentis as UNISON General Secretary

Dave is standing for re-election as UNISON General Secretary and he has my full support and I am sure that of a majority of our members. He was elected for a 2nd term in 2005 with a 77% majority.

I strongly believe that Dave is a Labour movement fighter and believer who want a progressive, influential and campaigning union that actually delivers for members. Our bread and butter issues are pay, pensions, equality and jobs.

So who is best placed to deliver? Who can punch our weight? Who has the relevant experiences and talents? Who has the skills and knowledge? Who can unite and lead 1.4 million members through the very difficult economic and political times we find ourselves in?

I believe it is Dave Prentis.

Northern Ireland, Scotland and North West region have already voted to nominate Dave.

UPDATE: so has National Disabled members' committee.  Check out Facebook group Elect Dave Prentis

BTW - People will know by now that personally I have no time for ultra left extremists or their candidates. But if they get the 25 nominations needed it is their right to run and I look forward to some fun and games in the future with them and their politics.

However, I have had the misfortune to come across the usual breathtaking hypocrisy of a certain blogging commentator who has the blooming cheek to complain about the cut and thrust of debate over the GS election.  He pretends to be ultra holier than thou despite his past form for righteous sectarian bile?

Has he no mirrors?

LGBT History Month Film Night: Thursday 25 Feb

SERTUC LGBT NETWORK Presents: LGBT History Month Film Night

Thursday 25 February 2010, Congress House - FREE ADMISSION

Limited Spaces available (registration essential - please book early)

Registration: sertuceventsATtucDOTorgDOTuk or 020 7467 1220

Screening four new shorts, showcasing the diversity and creativity of LGBT communities in the Region:

• 'Sanstitre 22' - by Raphael Duplay

• 'Fearful of Bubbles' - by Meerak Meinohg

• 'Drum Heart' - by Stoo Ireson

• 'Pictures of Zain' - by Faryal (support from UNITE)

Please note some of the films contain scenes of nudity and material of an adult nature

Sunday, February 07, 2010

"Trotskyism is not compatible with human dignity.. It conflicts with fundamental rights..repugnant.. and not worthy of respect in a democratic society". OFFICIAL

Last week’s published judgement by an Employment Tribunal (ET) which threw out a nasty and bogus complaint by certain members of the Socialist Party (SPEW) against UNISON - completely vindicated the union.

The four London based SPEW member's barmy claim was that internal discipline action taken against them by the union was only taken because they were Trotsky revolutionaries. They also claimed they were entitled to protection due to their Trotsky views and philosophy under the anti- religious discrimination regulations.

I won’t comment on the internal discipline procedure since this is still on-going. The SPEW web site reports that their internal union appeals have failed and they face a “mitigation” hearing on 24 February 2010.

However, I can comment on the completely vile lies and slanders that have been put about by supporters of these four SPEW members with regard to this ET.  Leaving aside the important issue that we have union members publically attacking their own union and encouraging outsiders to do the same.

You can purchase a copy of the ET judgement for yourself and see that the tribunal found that not only was there was no case to answer since the allegation was outside the regulations (and not capable of being discriminative), it was also “out of time” and even if it was within the regulations and in time it found that no discrimination had taken place.

Incredibly, SPEW has now published here that the employment tribunal decision was part of some wider class conspiracy against them and... British Airways workers (BA)? What daft and ignorant comments. ET’s have played no part in current legal dispute between Unite and BA. These BA workers are facing a real legal attack on them and for SPEW to try and compare themselves to genuine workers at risk of dismissal is just bloody shameful. Who outside the public sector union movement, who have to deal with such extremists, really gives a damn or has even heard of them?

What a load of cultist conspiracy rubbish. No-one forced them to take part in this legal process. Most of them had taken part in tribunals beforehand and knew the score. If they had won would they still be saying the same? No. Of course not.

Let’s see what the tribunal decided after a full hearing with witnesses giving evidence and being questioned, during several days of evidence as well as the submission of thousands of pages of statements and documents.

Without forgetting the important decision that the tribunal found that there has been no discrimination let’s see what they found about Trotskyism.

They found that the SPEW Trotskyism was “not compatible with human dignity” section 131; they found that SPEW members held “Extreme and repugnant views” section 133; Trotskyism is “not a belief that qualifies for protection from discrimination" section 134; “The claimant views conflict with the fundamental rights of others, and the dignity of others, and are not worthy of respect... in a democratic society". Section 135

That’s good enough for me. I only wish that this judgement was made available to all UNISON members. It was a pity that there was no mention that SPEW and other Trotskyite parties such as the SWP believe in “democratic centralism” which means that all their members must accept being told what to do by their Party and what the Party thinks is in the interest of the “revolution” (whatever that is) rather than in the best interests of union members. Why don't they disclose this on election addresses?

Tower Hamlets Housing Forum: Residents set the Standard

Tower Hamlet’s Council free newspaper “East End Life” published this report and photo on last month’s Borough Housing Forum meeting. Look at the photo and play “Spot the...” gobby housing officer boring his table; the retired top UNISON steward and now Island Homes residents rep; the former GMB steward and aspiring Labour Party Councillor candidate as well as being a founder member of a brand new TUC recognised trade union called (I believe) “The General Workers Union”. Finally, a former Bow & Poplar Area Housing manager and all round nice guy. (double click picture to bring up detail)

East End Life 1 Feb: Residents set the Standard “Taking action against anti-social behaviour, improving repairs and providing value for money are the top three priorities residents want social landlords to deal with.

More than 70 residents from 15 social landlords across the borough met at York Hall last month to talk about what services mattered the most to them.

The event was organised by the Tower Hamlets Housing Forum (THHF).

The biggest issues for residents on the day were how their landlords deal with anti-social behaviour, improving the repairs and maintenance service, and ensuring value for money for tenants and leaseholders, particularly around service charges.

Housing associations and the arms-length management organisation (ALMO) Tower Hamlets Homes want to develop service standards that will apply across all social landlords in Tower Hamlets. They will be working with residents to draw up minimum standards for these three areas.

They want residents to be involved in monitoring whether they are keeping to these standards and also to be able to compare the performance of their own landlord against others.

Pam Cole, who is a resident with Island Homes, said: “I found the day enjoyable because it was properly facilitated so that everyone had a chance to have their say. However, the success of the event will depend on what comes out of this and I hope that we get genuine improvements in services that involve residents at every stage.”

Operation Black Vote: CLG MP Shadowing Scheme

"Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time.

We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”

President Barack Hussein Obama

Our House?

The need to urgently address the systemic under-representation of Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BME) communities in our local, regional and national democratic institutions is imperative. Of 646 MPs, only 15 are from BME communities. Of those, only 2 are women, and to date, there has not been an Asian woman MP. A closer reflection of society would be nearer 60 MPs of which over half would be women.

Operation Black Vote in partnership with the Communities and Local Government (CLG) are delighted to re-launch the dynamic MP Shadowing Scheme. The aim of the project is to address the deficit of BME individuals in all areas and at levels of political life for the benefit of all communities.

The Programme

The cross-party programme will enable 25 dynamic BME individuals aged 18 years upwards to shadow senior Members of Parliament from constituencies around Britain. Participants will gain an invaluable experience of parliamentary politics at Westminster and in the local constituency. The programme will comprise of approximately 10-12 non-consecutive days over a six-month period and individuals will participate in a mixture of shadowing days and training sessions.

What is the next step?

If you are interested in applying to the programme, act now.

Applications can be obtained via:

Web: www.obv.org.uk

E-mail: mpATobvDOTorgDOTuk

Tel: Francine Fernandes - 0208 983 5426

Application deadline: Monday 15th February 2010 at 12 noon".

(double click picture to bring up detail - hat-tip thingy SERTUC)

Saturday, February 06, 2010

"The Spirit Level" - Newham Fabian Event Friday 12 Feb



Tonight I received this email from Ellie the Secretary of Newham Fabians “Just letting you know about an event you may be interested in, organised by Newham Bookshop and Newham Fabian Society, I hope you can make it
On Friday 12th February at 7pm Richard Wilkinson is coming to Wanstead Library to promote his book, The Spirit Level. Wilkinson explores how economic inequality in developed societies affects social cohesion, health, crime, education levels, etc. It is highly influential and easy to read. It is a good weapon for those fighting for a more equal society.

For the Guardian's review and the official website, please follow these links-

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2009/mar/13/the-spirit-level

http://www.equalitytrust.org.uk/resource/the-spirit-level

The event will be chaired by a fellow Newham Fabian, Kevin Mansell. Tickets are £5 but Newham Fabians can get them for a reduced rate of £3 :)

Please call Vivian at the bookshop to get your ticket on 020 8552 9993

Looking forward to an interesting, lively discussion, see you then"

Then I got this link to the YouTube video featured above via a Facebook group message from The Equality Trust.

The key message is that “we do better when we're equal”.

I haven’t read the book yet but from the reviews it seems to make sense. All those who consider themselves to be progressive will probably agree with its findings. But of course we tend to disagree on how we bring about a more equal society. Trade union education courses use to teach trainee stewards about PIP – “Problem, Information and Plan”. If this book helps us agree on the “problem” and provides the “information” then hopefully the plan should follow.

Fingers crossed (and toes).

Stratford High Street Labour Stall with our Gerry.

This morning I spent some time observing and helping out at a busy local Councillor Saturday ward surgery. It was pretty varied and interesting stuff. Next on the agenda was setting up a Labour Party stall in Stratford High Street outside the main shopping centre.

Picture is of our Gerry (backdrop is the historic Old Town Hall see him standing next to West Ham MP Lyn Brown) who is a retired T&G union activist who used to work in a local power plant. Gerry is a keen member of his Tenants Association and the West Ham CLP Disability officer. He has been an active member of the Labour Party for “over 50 years”. He sees an important part of his role as a member in making sure that in any Labour Party meeting he attends that its Chair is up to the job of running the meeting. While he puts down his long life to starting each day with a mug of tea topped up with a bit of whiskey. He points out that “if it was good enough for my old Duchess” who lived well into her late 80’s - it is good enough for him.

There was a good response from shoppers. A couple of doughnuts who think they are making serious political points by muttering expletives under their breath while walking quickly pass. We picked up some new members and lots of case work for Lyn and the Councillors while also giving passerby’s  directions to here and there and advice on what buses to get. The Labour Mayor of Newham, Robin Wales, also turned up which I hope to post a picture of us all when I get it.

Senior Councillor Helal Abbas from Tower Hamlets Council stopped by with his family while out shopping to show support and say hello.

I offered a Labour Party balloon to a mum who was with a wide eyed toddler who was eagerly holding her hand out. But her mum very politely refused saying “I am sorry but we do not agree with the Labour Party” To which I backed off and said “fair enough”. The toddler didn’t seem to agree and was visually and vocally unimpressed with whatever political correctness lay behind her Mum’s response. I reckon we will have a future Labour voter there.

One interesting exchange I overheard was one young woman speaking to another. Referring to Lyn Brown, she said to her friend “that’s our MP over there”. Her friend responded with “What? Why she here”. The reply was “Oh, her and Labour are always here”. To which I took some comfort from since it shows that we are recognised as being continually active as a Labour Party in West Ham and not just when there are elections.

Friday, February 05, 2010

"Inside Housing" on Notting Hill Housing Strike

"Staff at a London housing association will vote on strike action this month following proposed changes to terms and conditions.

Ballot papers have been sent to members of trade union Unison at Notting Hill Housing Group.

Unison said Notting Hill had proposed to abolish paid carers’ leave. The union also said the landlord was planning for staff redeployed to a lower-paid job to receive their original salary for six months rather than the current two years and relocation allowances would last for three months rather than a year. Flexitime, where staff have a contractual right to accrue overtime and take it as leave, would be replaced with flexible working, where staff must apply to managers to change their hours.

The association had considered extending working hours from 35 to 37 a week without extra pay but the board ruled out the idea. However it planned to implement the other changes without negotiating with the union, Unison said.

Almost half of the 210 Unison members at Notting Hill took part in a vote in December to decide whether they should be balloted for strike action. A total of 95 per cent voted in favour and 5 per cent opposed the idea.

Unison said carers’ leave cost Notting Hill a total of £30,000 in 2008 and its abolition combined with the end of flexitime, would have a disproportionate impact on female staff with caring responsibilities. It said cuts in salary protection and relocation allowances were ‘a cynical attempt to cut employment protection measures in advance of likely restructures and office moves’.

Unison Housing Associations Branch secretary Mary Powell said: ‘Notting Hill is one of a number of London-based housing associations which has imposed cuts to terms and conditions on its staff, or is threatening to do so. Such cuts come at a time when the need for quality social housing is greater than ever. Staff are expected to deliver a high standard of customer service whist seeing their own conditions of employment eroded. Low morale will only increase staff turnover to the detriment of services.’

A Notting Hill employee, who wanted to remain anonymous, said: ‘People are willing to make changes if it is necessary but there’s been no negotiation so it is demoralising. The way it has been put forward people feel they are being told they are not working hard enough. It seems the hardest hit are families and carers. Carers’ leave had such a small financial impact on the company that we cannot understand why they would want to get rid of it.’

Notting Hill chair Paul Hodgkinson is also a trustee of Parenting UK, a membership body for organisations which support parents.

A spokesperson for Notting Hill said the organisation was implementing the new terms and conditions to improve residents’ satisfaction with services.

‘We very much value our staff and will continue to try to balance their needs with our commitment to putting our residents first. We believe that the new terms and conditions are reasonable and compare very favourably with those offered by similar organisations,’ she said.

‘We have conducted an equality impact assessment to make sure that the proposed terms and conditions would not lead to any member of staff being treated unfairly.’

The spokesperson added that the association had increased paid holiday and was proposing to offer time off in lieu, but could not afford the current level of relocation and redeployment benefits and flexible working provided more predictability around staff attendance than flexitime which would allow a better service for residents. The organisation’s services had become expensive compared with other landlords and staff costs were a big part of this. She said the organisation was listening to staff and talking to them about individual concerns.

She said the organisation had discussed the proposals with Unison but had not been convinced by alternatives put forward by the union".

Check out "Inside Housing" link here and previous posts here and here

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Five–Nil: Victory for Members in London UNISON Regional Council AGM.

For the fifth year in succession ordinary UNISON members secured a clear sweep in the Regional Council Officer (RCO) elections. The disUnited Ultra Left (and one other) were routed and Gloria, Conroy, myself, Monica, Lynn and Emma were elected as the Regional lay leadership executive.

We won’t know the exact margin of victory until the figures are published tomorrow but going on the results of the declared vote in the rule amendment debate I suspect that the margin will be our best ever.

Formal and heartfelt commiserations of course to the losers.

I will post further details about the AGM soon. I have also been promised a special guest video on Friday about some sort of other important UNISON news.

Can’t wait!

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Notting Hill Housing Strike Ballot: Campaign for Dignity & Respect

The strike ballot for industrial action by UNISON members working for Notting Hill Housing Group started yesterday.

The result is due on Monday 22 February. The information below has been sent out by UNISON to members.

I’ll post some more lively stuff later. Check out previous post.

Corporate Management Team have refused to negotiate with UNISON on changes to the terms and conditions of all staff. They are now imposing those changes despite the fact that all staff will suffer a loss in one or more of the following key contractual areas:

Flexitime

A Flexible Working Policy will be imposed. This Policy was presented to JNC after the consultation had ended. UNISON has had no input into its drafting; does not agree with the process that has been adopted; and feels that the Policy is fundamentally flawed.

Paid Carers Leave

The right for all Carers to request paid Carers Leave will be removed. An overall average of 3 days paid Carers Leave was requested in 2008/09 at a cost to the employer of a mere £30K (NHHG 2008 operating surplus: 19.8 million).

Pay Protection

Pay protections for all staff that are redeployed following a restructure will be reduced from 2 years to 6 months. This is despite the fact that the implementation of ‘All Together Better’ in March 2010 will result in significant changes to staffing roles and levels. All redeployed staff will suffer an immediate loss.

Relocation Expenses

The current contractual right to be paid travel expenses for 1 year will be reduced to 3 months. Many redeployed staff will suffer an immediate expenses loss. All staff will experience a contractual loss if the Group relocates its head office to Kings Cross; an idea that is currently being seriously considered.

37-Hour Working Week

NHHG Board ‘reluctantly’ agreed to not increase the working hours for all staff from 35 hours to 37 hours. UNISON made it clear in consultations with CMT that members would agree to an increase in working hours provided there was a corresponding percentage increase in pay. Many members reported that they already worked extra (unpaid) hours. The current TOIL Policy suggests that from 1st March 2010 the working of unpaid extra hours will be a common expectation.

TUPE Terms and Conditions

Members who were TUPE transferred into Notting Hill Housing Trust may suffer additional contractual losses with no negotiated remuneration for that loss.

Love Where You Work…?

Notting Hill Housing used to be a top sector employer with good employee relations and excellent family friendly policies. The Group’s latest staff survey - conducted before the imposition of change - shows that staff morale is plummeting. The Group cannot achieve its stated aim of improving customer staff satisfaction levels if it does not meaningfully engage you in that process and show you all the dignity and respect that you deserve. This means listening to your collective concerns about the fact that changes are being imposed rather than negotiated with UNISON.

All Together Worse…?

Over 300 staff members signed and supported a UNISON petition for meaningful negotiation which was presented to The Board. The Board ignored the petition and refused to allow CMT to negotiate with UNISON. There has also been a refusal to go to ACAS for mediation. Send a message to the Board and CMT to engage with UNISON on negotiated change by voting ‘YES’ to Industrial Action.

Vote for negotiation by voting against imposition.

Please return your ballot paper promptly

Vote YES

For

Industrial Action

Emma Rolland for Regional Young Members Convenor

Check out here about AGM

"I am currently the Regional Young Members Convenor and also a member of the Regional Young Members Forum.

Young members have been particularly affected by the current economic climate and this gives the union the opportunity to recruit, organise and engage young workers to give them protection and support but also to build and strengthen the union for the future. I believe this should be a priority for the coming year.

If re-elected I would work with the Regional Young Members Forum to build and improve the young members organisation in London by:

• Ensuring that all branches elect a Branch Young Members Officer (less than 10% of our branches have one now)

• Increasing the number of members that join and participate in the Regional Forum to give young members a voice in London

• Encouraging branches to make recruiting young members part of their branch recruitment strategy and looking at resources they need to do this

• Encouraging young members to participate both in national campaigns such as Minimum Wage Campaign, as well as regional campaigns such as the sexual health awareness campaign.

In my experience trade unions can sometimes be considered by young people to be out of date and not relevant, I would like to continue to work with the YM forum and the Regional Council Officers to look at how we communicate with members and non members under 27 to change this perspective and demonstrate that trade unions are as relevant today as ever before - all too often young people are treated unfairly purely because of their age and face harassment, bullying and discrimination in addition to the issues that all public sector workers face such as attacks on terms and conditions, below inflation pay rises and privatisation. Trade unions are the key to protecting our members and challenging the issues we face at work.

Unfortunately no regional young members have taken place this year due to low attendance and I want to speak to young members to find out why they aren’t engaging at local level and how we can resolve this situation and build the Regional Young Members Forum in 2010.

We are the future of the union and recruiting young members is vital. Without encouraging more young people to join and then to become active at branch, regional and national levels the future of the union will suffer".

Lynn Bentley for Regional Publicity Officer

Check out here about AGM.

"I am currently the Regional Publicity Officer. As a member of the lay leadership team, working in partnership with colleagues at regional office, we have had significant success in the past four years in strengthening our union in the region; by bringing greater unity; building participation across the differing service and self organised groups; and building a union to be proud of. I hope you will re-elect me together with Gloria Hanson as Regional Convenor, Conroy Lawrence as Deputy Regional Convenor, John Gray as Regional Finance Convenor and Emma Rolland as Regional Young Members Officer so that we can continue the work we have started. We would like to bring in Monica Hirst as Regional Equalities Officer.

I am an experienced Branch Secretary and know the importance of good communication. My branch, Valuation Tribunals, has members scattered across the country and I understand how important it is to keep in touch with members and activists alike, as well as the difficulties that branches can face in doing this.

Good communications, whether in a branch or region, can improve recruitment, organisation, participation and democracy – a key priority for us all!

I am only too aware of the challenges that our members, and the branches & activists representing them, face in the coming year with more cuts in public services, the continued threat of privatisation, Total Place, Shared Services and the threat of a possible Conservative Government. As Regional Publicity Officer I will continue to look at how we communicate in the region; how this can be improved to ensure it is effective and relevant to our members as well as a useful resource to our activists to assist them in fighting these challenges at every opportunity.

Key objectives for the coming year will continue to be:

• Raising the profile of UNISON Greater London Region both in UNISON and across London

• Continuing to improve communications with all members but particularly with those groups who currently feel excluded from the union such as private contractors. We have recently introduced an e-bulletin for our members employed by private contractors and will be looking to develop this and extend it to other groups

• Highlighting current campaigns and disputes taking place across the region

• Regularly highlighting and updating on our successes and achievements

• Ensuring that the wide diversity of members in London is reflected in all forms of regional communications

• Producing a high quality and professional conference newssheet that reflects the views and opinions of the whole London delegation and which all delegates feel that are able to contribute to.

• Improving and promoting use of the regional website

• Looking at ways to support branches and activists, how they can communicate most effectively with their members and how we can strengthen support given to them to improve these.

Thank you for taking the time to read this address".

Monica Hirst for Regional Equalities Convenor

Check out here for preamble - Below is Monica's election statement (updated with photo) for London UNISON Regional Equalities Convenor. 

"I am seeking your support for election as Regional Equalities Convenor.

I am the Branch Secretary of Brent PCT and also the Staff Side Chair. I have worked in the NHS for over 25 years as an enrolled nurse, Staff Nurse, Health Visitor and now Nurse Educator.

I am experienced in representing and campaigning on behalf of our members and our union and am not afraid to speak up and be heard.

I believe in fairness and equality for ALL. Discrimination and inequality unfortunately continue to exist and affect many of our members on a daily basis and we all have a role to play in opposing and challenging this in whatever forms in exists. It is not acceptable that in 2009 people are discriminated against because of their gender, race, age, sexuality or disability and we must all work towards ensuring true equality for all.

Equalities legislation such as the forthcoming Equalities Bill gives us unique opportunities to negotiate and bring about real changes for our members both at work and at home, especially with the current political and economic climate and the challenges facing our members delivering public services in the coming year. The region has done much to campaign on equality and to provide support to activists in bargaining for equality. I see the role of the Equalities Convenor being central to ensuring this issue continues to be a priority on all agendas and to build on the work that has been started.

Our membership in London is the most diverse and this diversity must be celebrated. We must ensure that the opportunity to participate in the union at all levels exists for every one of our members. That they feel part of the union and that they are able to contribute and participate in whatever form is at the heart of the equalities agenda.

I want to be part of the Regional Convenor Team, working with Gloria Hanson, Conroy Lawrence, John Gray, Lynn Bentley and Emma Rolland to play an active role in strengthening our union in London by bringing greater unity and democracy, building participation across the differing self organised and service groups, and building a union to be proud of".

Monday, February 01, 2010

John Gray for Regional Finance Convenor

Check out here for preamble - Below is my election statement for Finance Convenor.

"I am currently the Regional Finance Convenor, and strongly believe that strong management of our member’s money is the foundation to organising campaigns that deliver for our members.

If re-elected as the Regional Finance Convenor I will continue to ensure that the member’s money is used to support branches focusing on real issues for real members such as:

• Recruitment

• Defending the NHS and Pensions

• Campaigning for directly provided services and to defend our public services

• Campaigning for equalities

• Strengthening our influence in all areas but in particular Education and in Private Contractors

OPEN AND TRANSPARENT

Financial decisions need to be open and transparent and be easily understood by activists.

I want to make sure that activists better understand the financial support that is available to branches and ensure that the money gets to them to support recruitment and organising campaigns.

The Region has the money to back a growing union – the bigger we are, the stronger we are – let make sure it happens".

I am an experienced branch officer and regional activist for many years (including holding the position of branch treasurer, assistant branch secretary, branch health and safety officer, member nominated representative on Pension panel and vice chair of London Labour Link).

As part of the current lay leadership team, working in partnership with the regional office, we have had significant success in the past four years in strengthening our union in London by bringing greater unity, building participation across the differing service and self organised groups, and building a union to be proud of and I hope to be re-elected to continue the work we have started.

If anyone wishes to discuss my statement with me they could ring me or email at john.m.grayATntlworldDOTcom

Conroy Lawrence for Deputy Regional Convenor & Regional Rep @ TUC Conference

Check here - Below is Conroy's election statement

"I am seeking your support for re-election as Deputy Regional Convenor and Regional Delegate to TUC Conference 2010

During the last few years the regions lay leadership has finally started to reflect our membership and has done much to champion the cause of UNISON members in London. The Convenor Team has successfully strengthened UNISON in London by bringing greater unity, building participation across the differing service and self organised groups, and building a union to be proud of. I want to continue to work with Gloria Hanson as Convenor, John Gray as Finance Convenor, Lynn Bentley as Publicity Officer, Emma Rolland as Young Members Convenor with Monica Hirst as Equalities Convenor to continue to build on this in the coming year.

With 75% being female and 40% from black and ethnic minorities our membership in London is diverse. It is vital that the lay leadership continues to be representative. We also need to look at how things are currently done and consider new ways to make the union more relevant to engage and encourage members and new activists from all occupational and service groups to become active at all levels of the union.

We must continue to focus on real issues for real members. We must listen to our members, make their priorities ours and ensure all members in London have a voice.

Unfortunately the issues which our members continue to face on a daily basis - inequality, privatisation and marketisation, attacks on their terms and conditions and relentless budget cuts and reforms – don’t change. We need to continue to recruit and organise and build the region to ensure that we are strong enough to fight on their behalf and win!

In recent years I have been proud to be part of the unions campaigns to defend our NHS, for fair pay, a decent pensions scheme and against the far right. I want to continue our campaigning for decent London Weighting, affordable housing, greater equality and opposing the BNP everywhere they emerge.

As a Branch Officer at Lewisham Hospital I know first hand how difficult it can be to balance doing the day job with union duties and am committed to working to strengthen the support available to activists and branches to assist them as much as possible in representing their members at work.

Only a few years ago members in health felt they didn’t have a voice and weren’t represented in the region. As Chair of the Regional Health Committee I have been delighted to see more health branches than ever before becoming active and playing a central role within the region.

There is still a long way to go in the fight for equality but I am proud that my branch is one of the pilot branches taking part in the Challenging Racism Project.

If re-elected I will work tirelessly to represent the views of our members, to campaign for issues that affect them and ensure that their voice is heard loud and clear".

Gloria Hanson for Regional Convenor & Regional Rep @ NDC

Check out here - Below is Gloria’s election statement.

"I am seeking your support for my re-election as Regional Convenor and also Regional Delegate to NDC.

As the Regional Convenor, I am so proud to be part of this diverse lay leadership team which is representative of our membership and our considerable success in recent years of strengthening the region by bringing greater unity and democracy, building participation across differing service and self organised groups, and building a union to be proud of.

Our union and our members have faced many challenges this year but the region has seen many successes such as a sustained increase in recruitment, increase in activists attending training, winning equal pay claims, campaigns to protect jobs and conditions through cuts and restructuring and our work on equalities which goes from strength to strength.

I want to see London UNISON continue to campaign on real issues for real members - defending the NHS and directly provided services; strengthening our influence in Education and in Private Contractors; promoting equalities; Pensions, affordable housing, London Living Wage, opposing and defeating the far right and raising UNISON’s profile as the lead trade union in London.

Never has it been a more important time for public service workers to be a member of a trade union, which gives us an opportunity to continue to build and strengthen our union, by recruiting, organising and maximising participation. By getting our members active we can only become stronger and more representative. We must take every opportunity to look at how we make the union more relevant to all and encourage participation at all levels. I will continue to send a message out to our members that this is OUR union, and each member has a role to play and a contribution to make.

As an experienced black activist I know only too well the challenges our members and activists face. I will work to strengthen support for branches and activists in undertaking the difficult task of supporting members at work, as well as to encourage new activists to come forward from sections of the union where there is a long-established under-representation.

In the coming year our union and our members will face many changes and challenges for which we must be ready to act and adapt. If re-elected as Convenor, with Conroy Lawrence as Deputy, we will ensure that the voice of the membership – your voice –continues to be listened to and heard, and that we champion these voices. We will continue to work tirelessly in the fight for equality and fairness for our members, to give London UNISON a louder and effective voice that is listened to by all.

I am also standing as Regional Delegate for NDC. In recent years we have seen more branches and delegates attending and participating in NDC than ever before and I want to support, encourage and assist the London delegation to ensure a successful and productive conference.