Thursday, June 16, 2011

Newham Trades Council relaunch: What was Good, Bad and at times Ugly

Last night I went to the relaunch of Newham Trades Council which took place inside the Town Hall Council Chamber. I was late due to another meeting and missed the opening speeches by NUT General secretary Christine Blower;  PCS assistant General secretary Chris Baugh and
Steve Hedley from the RMT. Steve had left by the time I arrived.

I must admit to being impressed with the turn out, which pretty much filled the Council Chamber. People were  making contributions as I took my seat.  Most of which were very good and constructive.  Pointing out that we must build unity to defeat this Tory led coalition. I was surprised though that quite a few of the speakers admited that they did not live or work in the borough.

However, there were some extremely silly and sectarian grandstanding going on.  Repeating almost word for word in some instances, the Tory lies that Labour Council cuts are all unnecessary and are only being carried out to embarrass the government.  I could imagine the Evil one himself in the corner chuckling to himself at some of the comments made.  How anyone thinks they can build opposition by splitting and wreaking is beyond me?  I'm more than happy to have a row with such people but I would rather be fighting Tories.  Honest!

Overall there were many good points made and of course it is entirely legitimate to constructively criticise the Party and hold elected representatives to account.  However one contributor ended his thoughts by calling for people to stop voting Labour.  There was some clapping to this. My response is yes, if you do not agree with Labour, then don't vote Labour.  It is a free vote. No one is forcing you to vote Labour in the borough with the biggest Labour vote in the entire country.

Chris and Christine made excellent closing speeches.  Chris reminded everyone that the anti poll tax campaign was successful because everyone was under attack and everyone was united in opposition.  While Christine pointed out the ludicrous situation that there is no legal requirement for a school to have a library but there is for a prison to have one. Both of them urge support for the likely Pension's strike on June 30th and look forward to possible further strikes over Pensions involving all the public sector unions later on in the year.

I thought this was on the whole a successful meeting and well done to Newham Trades Council Secretary, Peter Smith (left of picture) for a well organised and well chaired event.  This could be the basis of a successful relaunch of the trades council.  But not if some just want to use it to bash Labour.  We must agree on what we can agree and leave the rest to be fought over elsewhere and another day. I didn't stand up and say my piece last night out of respect for the speakers present.  Because a good meeting would have just descended into a shouting match (both ways).  But I doubt I would hold my tongue again.  It also desperately needs the centre left to participate and not stay away because they cannot be bothered to go to a meeting and be lectured by those they consider (rightly or wrongly) to be weirdo la la fantasists. 

We should also recognise that the majority of workers in Newham are not in the public sector and many desperately need our help to organise.  Our fight over the Tory cuts affects everyone, but we must also support and campaign on bread and butter trade union issues in Newham such as Living wage plus, trade union recognition and health & safety in small businesses.  As the UNISON General Secretary, Dave Prentis said, Trade unions were not created for the good times, we were created for the bad times.  That bad time has come under this Government.  We need to organise centrally and locally in the Labour movement. Newham Trades Council has a proud history and I hope a bright future.   


Anonymous said...

I don't know what you expect from residents of Newham and from men & Woman who voted Labour in as a majority party in Newham - of course they are going to be angry with Labour - especially in Newham. Like you I took my seat and also like you I refrained from commenting - but again like you I will not sit back and say nothing the next time.

You claim to be a staunch Trade Unionist and I assume an active trade unionist within you union UNISON ?

What I witnessed was from where I was sitting was your manner and anger rise when a speaker challenged you on the alternatives to the cuts that Newham Council will be implementing higher than the tories expected from Newham. You even got more excited and clearly uncomfortable when challenged again as to why you and your fellow cllrs approved a loan to the tune of millions of pounds to bail out a relegated football when anyone with half a brain and had the interest of the people of Newham first and foremost would procure that loan to save valuable front line services that are soon to be closed in Newham.

And as a resident I cannot recall any consultation or any cllr commenting on the WHU loan.

You were also told at that meeting that Newham Council are employing hundreds of consultants where some of them are earning up to 2k a day whilst our own staff are having their terms and conditions cut and possible job losses - do you think that it acceptable under the circumstances ?

It was raised also about Newham Council's millions of tax payers reserves you lot have stashed away for a rainy day that also could partially be used to good use saving posts or services.

I'm not in a union and am not a member of any party, am just a hard working resident of Newham who attended a public meeting about the austerity cuts in Newham - or so I was led to believe. And in my opinion you got off lightly at that meeting and need to stand by your supposed principals and challenge what's happening to your electorate in Newham.

But I'm betting that you won't have the courage ti respond and lead the double life you have been blabbing on about - but you didn't fool any of us at that meeting - we saw right through you.

Anonymous said...

It is a shame john that anon is doing the tories dirty work for them in Newham.

Repeating the tory lies you point out - that the cuts are all unnecessary, cutting more than asked, there is plenty in reserves, its all the fault of consultants, the olympic stadium bid... Yawn, yawn.....all complete and utter lies and dribbling drivel of course.

Never mind, if you repeat it enough times then perhaps some will believe it.

Nothing to do of course with this government making us pay for the bankers crisis and its class warfare on public services and the poor?

Also are they that stupid that they cannot read that you are a unison branch secretary and NEC member? You make it very clear.

Anonymous said...

Can't hide behind the tories forever, we know what your about and we know what is the truth - your all two faced and on a good screw in the London Borough of Newham and we know you all voted obediently for the WHU loan under the watchful all seeing eye of the Olympic Mayor who you all are so frightened and none of you have the guts to bite the hand that feeds you.

Buts let's see what Cllr Greys response is, he seems a man who is the most important man in the room.

Anonymous said...

What interest is it to the people of Newham that you a UNISON branch secretary - if you are then you should be ashamed of yourself. What we want to know is the answers to one question.

"Did you attend a full council meeting and vote yes to approve a government loan to give to West Ham Football Club" its a simple question Cllr Grey - but will require a bit of courage to answer I suspect.

Anonymous said...

I went to this meeting as well. I wasn’t impressed at all. I went because I thought it would be a debate about the recession and austerity. It was not what I expected. The invited speakers spoke very well but I do not work in public services. I am a member of T&G so I wish they do well with their pensions. The meeting was dominated by people I can only describe as loud mouths who seemed to enjoy being rude about the council? They were generally rude and aggressive. No wonder Mr. Gray did not bother speaking. I wouldn’t. There was one elderly gentleman who spoke well and a number of other people tried to argue points but the atmosphere was not nice. I will not be going back.

Anonymous said...

I think your writing in your own blog cllr Grey - your a legend in your own lunch time - you must have a lot of time on your hands where you work. And for the record its UNITE - there is no T&G any more. You have got to better then that brother.

Anonymous said...

what these tories anons are too thick to realise john is that the loan for the stadium is not to west ham FC but to buy the lease. A prime £500 million site for £40 million? Talk about the stupid party.

I for one believe in public ownership and am pleased that the council is going to part nationalise the stadium.

Newham Tory Watch said...

Newham Tories are not only very stupid but also completely ignorant.

The council has used some reserves to keep services going (it's in the accounts), it is not cutting more - it is spending on different things. Every penny in grant will be spent. Nothing will be handed back to the gov as extra cuts. Only an idiot would believe that story. Councils can only get such loans for capital projects such as the stadium; You cannot get loans to pay for services. If you could the gov would stop it.

No wonder Newham Tories keeps losing. Why are they so dense and dim?

Robert said...

Lots of people here hiding behind the anon name.

I've not been to a meeting for a few years now, not because I do not want to in my area to get into the council you have to climb stairs, I notice a Tory MP Mr Davies has suggested that the disabled opt out of the min wage because well the disabled cannot do the same, he is right of course, but why should I opt out of the min wage.

I would of course as i did for 46 years years fight to get a labour government in at the next election, sadly Labours gone missing of late.

But gents the arguments are all fine, but since I was not at the Newham meeting I do not know.

Swansea City my team have a new £29 million stadium built by the c council, I suspect with Liverpool MUFC and of course the other big clubs coming to play at the ground the people visiting we will make back double that £29 million this season.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for clearing up the confusion of the £40 million pound loan - its looks like the people of Newham will be getting £500 million pounds in return for the investment and loan of £40 million. That's amazing - just exactly are the people of
Newham going to benefit from this loan ? How and who is this money being invested to ? Wow were all going to be alright now - no front line services will have to be sacrificed or jobs lost and we can with all that money save Newham General
If it faces closure.

And it gets even better, for apparently all the council reserves are being plowed back in to local services in Newham - can you tell us where its being directed ?

Only one problem - I don't believe a word of it - its a facade and its clouding the truth and you have your image to protect cllr Grey of UNISON.

Anonymous said...


Where have you all been ? Ever since you lot voted to implement more cuts then what the tories asked you do and on top of the West Ham United loan we haven't seen you -not just you Cllr Grey - but the whole lot of you.

What's the latest scam that the people of Newham will be victims of? Looks like our elderly are soon to be the first victims of Newhams cuts with the last remaining respite care homes to be closed and our elderly residents
Under that care shipped out to private care homes anywhere and everywhere - and before you rant on about blaming the tories what have you and your mates within Newham Council to prevent this from happening ? All this when you know fine well we have greedy parasites called consultants feeding off the gravy train of Newham residents money to the tune of £2k a day and unlimited expenses. What have you and your mates done to address this sick abuse of rate payers money ?

John Gray said...

There has been some fun and games I see. Since this is my own blog I don’t usually comment on Council business but it is a matter of record that I did vote for the Olympic stadium bid. I think it is a good deal for Newham.

I must admit that I am amused at some of the VERY ANGRY cant and bile comments by I assume Newham Tories. I think that any reasonable and objective person reading them would think that are actually discrediting their cause. I would agree.

I am also intrigued why people are so quick to accuse people they disagree with of being corrupt and motivated by personal gain? I now think this is because those who accuse are basing their views on their own personalities i.e. if they were in a position of responsibility they would abuse it solely to enrich themselves.

What sad little people.

Anyway, I assume most of the Tory comments came about due to someone enjoying too much a POET Day. I would suggest that they calm themselves down in a dark room and chill out. If that doesn’t work then they should seek out appropriate medical support as a matter of urgency.

Hi Robert
There is no alternative to Labour. Full stop. Come back home and fight your corner.
Hope it does work out for Swansea.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for being honest Cllr Grey, it must have been a very good deal for the people of Newham if every single Labour cllr voted for the West Ham loan. Perhaps if you can you may be able to enlighten your readers on just how this loan will benefit your electorate ? Maybe also you can tell us where the consultation meeting were held in Newham with the residents of Newham and whether this loan is specific to WHU only - or is it simply a loan from the government ?

Also I have read concerns from your blog regarding if correct the blatant abuse of consultants with their expenses claims and where again if true some are earning up to £2k a day ? Surely under these difficult times ahead of all of us in Newham - that's not true ? And were you aware of this ?

A concerned rate payer of Newham and supporter of Labour.

John Gray said...

Hi concerned rate payer and Labour supporter.

As I said before this is my personal blog and not the Councils or Labour Group. So I think that you should address those concerns to your local ward councillors in the usual way. I am not going to debate them on line.

I will point out that the people of Newham did take part in the biggest consultation meeting of them all in May last year. When they elected a 100% Labour Council, a Labour Mayor and Labour MP's to represent them and make such decisions on their behalf.

I assume as a Labour supporter you will be pleased about that.

I also assume that you run a business in Newham since you still pay rates? You can still speak to the ward Councillors where your business is located.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for what you could say on your blog, and I do own a business and like all of us in Newham we are very worried about our future and whether we can sustain our business through these harsh austerity cuts.

It just seems like Labour is floundering at the moment especially in Newham, and you may think I am speaking out of line but we need a leader like Tony Blair to galvanise Labour back into power.

And what I have seen and heard from Robin Wales almost reminds me of a Torie, where he was even praising them in a news article.

We also need a new Mayor from within the Labour Party, but that's just my opinion.

See you on the picket line on the 30th.

John Gray said...

Hi concerned ratepayer and Labour supporter.

I'll mark you 2/5.

Yes, see you on the picket line on the 30th.

Anonymous said...

2 out of 5 thanks for that John lol - I must admit you seem a pretty decent guy - how you have survived under Sir Robin I will never know ( that wasn't meant badly ) I think a lot of people are worried and when your anxious or worried we sometimes say things that later we regret. Anyway I hope it all goes well on the 30th - am not too sure whether that's what Osbourne wants but let's hope all the unions put aside any differences and stand firm together if taken on by the government.

Forest Gate school also on strike on wednesday.

Anonymous said...

Glad you agree with points Chris made. Never thought you'd come round to agreeing with the Socialist Party. There's hope for you yet.

John Gray said...

Hi Anon

I missed his opening speech but he seemed very sensible and moderate. Why aren't our SPEW lot more like him?