Saturday, October 23, 2010

SERTUC Council meeting

This morning I went off to the Southern and Eastern Region TUC Council (SERTUC) meeting at Congress House.  Firstly there was a UNISON pre-meeting for delegates.  Then up to the 5th floor for Council. 
Normally we are in the basement conference area but this was being prepared for today’s “anti-cuts” Rally.  The meeting finished at 11.45 so that delegates can get to the Rally for 12 noon. 
SERTUC President Martin Gould gave his usual straight talking and no nonsense feisty opening report on the battles ahead.
We then moved directly to motions.  We passed unanimously a CWU motion “Keep the Post Public Coalition”.  UNISON delegate Brian Walters (and son of a postie) seconded this motion in fluent French to honour the protests taking place across the channel!  There was also an Unite motion “Attack on Public Services”.  I spoke on this 2nd motion. 
I reminded Council that we must talk to our members and not just ourselves.  Some polls show that even a majority of union members think the cuts are necessary.  We need to challenge this and one way is to let our members know how sheer “nasty” they are – as a working front line secretary of the UNISON Housing Association branch we have to deal with a 50%  or £4 billion in cuts in housing; the ending of security of tenure which will mean that my members will be expected to evict Grannies whose kids have left home; in London there will be no more new public housing starts in 2011; who will house the expected extra 82,000 private tenants who will be evicted in London due to restrictions in Housing benefit?; London Councils report that some authorities are planning to block book B&B’s in south coast resorts; future rents in public housing will be 80% of “market rents” which in London could mean an average  2 bed flat rental will rise from £90 per week to £250.  Who can afford that?
Never the economics theory but surely it is madness that my members who develop homes are being made redundant at the same time as construction workers are being laid off resulting in less income tax and more claims for benefit at the same time that we have 4 million in housing need! 
SERTUC secretary Megan Dobney reminded us that the Fire Brigade Union (FBU) were on strike in London from 10am this morning (there is a SERTUC solidarity meeting for the FBU on Thursday evening at Congress House).   There is another one day strike due on 1 November 2010.  
There were a few contributions around the secretary’s report but we eventually finished early enough to even have extra items of AOB!
Off to main SERTUC rally 11.40.

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