Thursday, April 30, 2015

ISS backs Teamsters union over motion 22 at National Express AGM 5 May 2015

Check out  Tom at "Labour & Capital" about some rare and sensible support about encouraging a company to do the right thing for workers, customers (school children in this case) and shareholders.

"Big news tonight (29.4.15) - the FT has reported that the major proxy voting adviser ISS has recommended that shareholders vote FOR Resolution 22 at the National Express AGM next week. PIRC has also recommended a vote in favour.

Resolution 22 calls on the board to commission an independent review of practice in Durham School Services, its US business. This follows repeated complaints from employees about management interference with workplace rights.

To my knowledge, there have been six shareholder resolutions at UK companies in the past ten years that focused on labour rights in one way or another. I don't think ISS has previously recommended a vote for any of them, so this marks a significant shift.

Many large shareholders may share the ISS view that the review proposed in the resolution is not an onerous demand. They may also feel that the board has allowed this issue to drag on for long enough, and action needs to be taken to address it and then move on.

Anyway, it set things up nicely for next Wednesday's AGM."

UNISON NEC Ballot ends 15th May

Still time to vote. Retrieve your ballot paper from the "pending" pile in the drawer or on the shelf and vote then post. Check out my recommendations for regional and national seats here or on Facebook

All UNISON members should have received a ballot paper at their home address by now.

If not you should ring 0800 0857 857 for a duplicate. Lines open 6am to midnight, Monday to Friday and 9am to 4pm on Saturday. The ballot does not finish until May 15.

(Hat tip Chris Hanrahan)

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Proud Union Labour Activists


This collage is from the "Unions together" TULO Rally in London on Monday. Last week Ed Miliband and UNISON General Secretary, Dave Prentis, spoke at the national TULO rally in Birmingham with over 1000 union members present.

General secretary of the GMB, Paul Kenny, was the first main speaker and he compared the huge number of people who are now forced to beg for insecure jobs on poverty wages with what happened in the London Docks in the 19th century. He pointed out that the Sunday Times Rich list reported that the personal wealth of the richest had doubled since 2010 while working people have had their income slashed. He condemned UKIP for attacking the exploited and not the exploiters.

Next was Jack Elliot, a GMB member and grass roots Labour Party activist, who first voted in 1945. He attacked the ultra left Party TUSC for betraying workers, working with racists and doing what they can to let the Tories win. To loud cheers, he told us that "he had a go" at the Trotskyist newspaper sellers outside as he came in.  He called for a real unity of all things and vote Labour.

UNISON Branch secretary Emine Ibrahim spoke passionately about the 18% cut in wages in real terms for Council staff since 2010. How her members cannot pay their bills and rely on loan sharks to survive until pay day. She called on all of us to work in the marginal seats to bring about a Labour victory.

Unite General Secretary, Len McCluskey, urged all union members to vote Labour and get rid of the Tories. The Tories are the party of fear while Labour is the party of hope. Reject the Tory path to food bank and rip off Britain. Make sure the super rich and corporate elite pay their bloody taxes! Ed Miliband and Labour put hope back into politics. Vote for Change. Vote Labour and kick the Tories out and build a better Britain.

London Assembly member, Tom Copley, described his job has trying to keep his eye on Boris as London Mayor. A difficult job since Boris he is rarely at his post as Mayor. Tom urged union members to remember the 11 million people who rent their homes from private landlords and how important it is for them to have a Labour government, who will cap rent rises and introduce 3 year tenancies.

Manuel Cortes, from the railway union TSSA believes that Labour leader Ed Miliband will rebalance our society and economy away from the interests of the top 1,000, who have increased their wealth by £250 billion since 2010. He is really pleased that Labour have promised an industrial policy if they win power.

He reminded us that Ed has said that it is not leaders that change the world but movements.

TUC General Secretary, Frances O'Grady, began by stating that she was proud to be the daughter of immigrants and proud of the role that people like her mother made to the NHS as a nurse. She looked forward to a Labour government introducing worker reps on company remuneration committees to stop greed at the top. She thought the Tories claim to be "the workers party" as convincing as Cameron's claim to support West Ham FC.

Last speaker was Uma Kumaran, the Labour candidate for Harrow East in London. When she speaks to people and says she is a trade unionist, some say she doesn't look like one. She replies that it does not matter what you look like to be a trade unionist but do you believe in common decency for all and standing together in order to achieve it.  

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Midshipman George L. Drewry VC RNR

Yesterday morning I attended a Commemorative Stone Ceremony at the Cenotaph in Central Park, East Ham, Newham, London.

It was to mark the unveiling of the first of 5 paving stones to be placed at the Cenotaph to remember the heroism of five Newham residents, who won our nations highest military honour, the Victoria Cross, during World War One.

Forest Gate born, George Drewry, won his Victoria Cross age 20 during the Gallipoli landings on 25 April 1915.

The ceremony was very much a naval affair led by Hon Vice Admiral The Lord Sterling of Plaistow, GVCO CBE RNR. There were other Royal Navy personal, Sea Cadets and a Royal Marine Bugler who played "The Last Post".

The Rifles, the British Legion, Police, Council, faith groups, local School children and residents were also there to honour Midshipman George Drewry.

In a nice touch they had a modern day Royal Navy Midshipman (this is the most junior Officer rank) give the account of the incredible heroism by George Drewry, who despite bring wounded, repeatedly risked his life under heavy enemy fire to enable troops from his ship to land at Gallipoli.

Check out the tale at Newham Story.

I hope to attend all the ceremonies commemorating Newham residents who won the Victoria Cross during First World War. 

The ceremony yesterday was special to me since (as already mentioned in this post) my Grandfather, Frederick Matthews MC, was also in the Royal Naval Reserve (RNR) and fought in Gallipoli.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Bosses keep paying themselves far more than their companies earn

This is what happens when there are no employee representatives on company pay committees which decide what executives are paid.

If Labour win they will ensure that worker representatives are elected to every large company pay committee.

This should help keep greedy snouts out of the trough.

"Briefing 57: Top pay increases are way out of proportion to company performance
 
Britain's top executives are supposed to be paid according to how their companies perform - but pay in recent years has increased far more quickly than performance.
 
Check out data at Inequality Briefing"

Snowdon (Yr Wyddfa) - Watkins Path April 2015


Off message but earlier this month I went to North Wales for my mum's birthday but also to walk up Snowdon (Yr Wyddfa) to pay my respects in memory to my father whose ashes were scattered on at the summit in April 2002. I normally go with my sisters but this year for various good reasons I was by myself.

The weather was simply glorious. Warm in the sunshine and you could clearly see for miles.

I went up via Watkins path and despite having walked it before and being one of the most clearly marked routes, I got lost right at the beginning (due to sheer stupidity) and then also lost my glasses and had to retrace my steps until I found them. After about an hour and some cross country scrambling, I re-joined Watkins path.

This is a lovely and relatively quiet route up way Snowdon. You go past waterfalls and long ago abandoned mines and quarries.

I passed Gladstone Rock where the 19th Century Prime Minister is said to have stood on and speak  to a crowd of 2000 people.

A shepherd who was driving sheep upland with dogs and whistles shouted up to me to open a gate to allow the sheep through. The sheep then followed me along the path for about a mile.

The last part of Watkins Path was a long, hard slog. Especially the scree at the very end. You have no choice but to just take your time and go on and on. I was very glad it was not wet and slippery.

In return for the effort, the views were simply magnificent and (not that I had much left) breath taking. You feel that you are on top of the world.

At the summit it was still clear but cold and windy. So after saying hello to John Gray Senior and a brief bite to eat, I started back along the ridge via a different route down.

I got a little lost again but managed to re-join the path and for the next 2 hours passed no one as I made my way down the other side of the valley. Going down can be as hard work as going up and even more hazardous. My knees were complaining and my walking sticks were more than a nuisance when climbing down. Eventually I came to a old quarry tramline and dropped down again to Watkins path.

It took me about 4 hours to climb and nearly 3 hours to come down. Watkins path is well made but very difficult at the end and I would not go this way in bad weather nor use the route back either.

All in all it was a fantastic walk. While I enjoy company, walking by yourself, at your own pace, with your own thoughts, in such beautiful surroundings is refreshing and good for your soul.

I was staying in Betws y Coed  and stopped off for my traditional end of walk cold beer to toast the Mountain at Bryn Tyrch Inn in Capel Curig.

(check out more photos at Facebook)

Sunday, April 26, 2015

UNISON urges its members to "Keep It Co-op"

Last week UNISON in its national efocus newsletter urged its members to

"Help defend the Co-op's Political Voice.

UNISON is urging members who belong to  the Co-op to defend its link with the Co-operative Party.

The new management at the Co-op Group has initiated a vote on ending its funding of the party. The Co-operative Party is affiliated to the Labour Party, but provides a distinct voice as part of the wider cooperative movement.

UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said an important principle is at stake in the vote: "The principle that democratic organisations like co-operatives and trade unions can and should be engaged in politics.

"They should be a voice for ordinary working people."

The Co-operative Group and the Co-operative Party have together helped to create a fairer Britain.

They have led the way in protecting shoppers and the environment, and championed fair trade.

They have have supported credit unions, won new rights for football supporters, and created a network of 800 co-op schools. But now that partnership is at risk.

On the 16 May, Co-op Group members will vote on whether to continue supporting the Co-operative Party.

UNISON is urging members - whether or not they’re eligible to vote – to sign up at 'Keep it Co-op' and call on the Co-op Group to return to its radical, progressive roots and to continue to be a democratic voice for its members and staff.

Help stop the Co-op's political voice being silenced"

Picture above is from the Daily Mirror and Paul Routledges article that the Co-op should not allow its new highly paid directors to end its belief in making the world a better place.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Ilford North, Stratford, Canning Town, Ilford North

This collage is a snapshot of campaigning during the last 48 hours. On Thursday evening I went to Ilford North and was sent out with Ross, Jeremy and Glen to speak to the postal voters at the Tiptree Estate. Which is a very well managed and beautifully designed Council housing estate in Clayhall. Lots of safe, green spaces for kids to play.

On Friday evening I was in Maryland, Stratford with by-election candidate, Charlene McLean. This was one of the slowest canvasses I have ever been on since seemingly everyone wanted to stop, speak and chat to Charlene and local Councillor "Red" Terry Paul. One resident even went off and posted her postal ballot paper for Charlene while we watched.

Today we had a lively stall in Canning Town with Lyn Brown, our West Ham Labour Parliamentary Candidate and supporters. It was heart warming to see local residents queuing up to shake Lyn's hand and wish her luck in the general election.

After the stall we went off to canvass in Stratford or Ilford North. I ended up in Ilford North with Cllr John Whitworth and we were given a "car round" to canvass and found ourselves out in the rural part of the constituency.  The results were as good as we get in the more urban areas. People are fed up of this Government and just want the Tories out. 

The band played waltzing matilda


Today is the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the First World War Gallipoli campaign.  The 8 month conflict was one of the most vicious of that war.

This song was written by Eric Bogle in 1971 and was today described by a good friend of mine (and who has a doctorate in History) as "the most powerful anti-war song I have ever heard".

Gallipoli is very important to Australians  and New Zealanders but British and French troops also served there. My maternal Grandfather, Frederick Matthews, fought there with the Hawke Battalion, Royal Naval Division. He arrived after the landing in July 1915. I will post further in July about him and his Battalion's experiences in Gallipoli and then later in France. 

Friday, April 24, 2015

"Broken Commitments, Vulnerable Workers" - Human rights violations by National Express PLC

Find out below what happened when two British MPs were invited by low paid and exploited workers to find out how they were treated by their British owned employers. 

On May 6 it will the National Express AGM. If you have a funded pension or insurance policy contact your administrators and urge them to make sure that their fund manager supports resolution 22. 

"Ian Lavery and Jim Sheridan went on a fact-finding mission to to investigate labour rights violations at National Express Group operations in the United States.

We embarked on our trip to the United States to learn first-hand about UK based National Express Group’s North American school bus subsidiary – Durham School Services. We endeavoured to hear from Durham school bus workers and management, parents, school board of education members, elected officials, community organizations, labour relations experts and trade union representatives. 

While we went to Charleston, South Carolina and Memphis, Tennessee we also spoke with Durham workers from Jacksonville and Santa Rosa County, Florida; Grey’s Lake, Illinois; and Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Based on our investigation we produced a report and also set forth recommendations to address the deep concerns we have with Durham School Services.

See previous post here

Thursday, April 23, 2015

UNISON NEC Elections 2015: John Gray Election Statement

Your existing NEC member
I am seeking your support for my re-election as one of your two members of the UNISON National Executive Committee (NEC) for Community, which is the part of the union for members who work in the voluntary sector, housing associations and charities.

A little bit about me
I have worked in front line housing management in a large inner city estate for over 20 years.  I now work for one of the biggest Housing Associations in the country but my first job was in Welfare Rights with a small voluntary organisation in Scotland. I have also worked in Wales and Yorkshire.

Grass Roots Union Activist
As a UNISON activist I have been elected to many different branch and regional positions including Treasurer, Health & Safety, Labour Link, Welfare and International officer.  I am currently the Secretary of the Greater London Housing Associations Branch.

·         But fundamentally I am a workplace steward negotiating pay and conditions with my employer and defending members in discipline, grievance and sickness hearings.

Pay, jobs and conditions
Community members have faced amongst the very worse cuts in jobs and attacks on their pay, pensions, terms and conditions. We must play our part in opposing austerity and arguing for an alternative economic policy.

Care and support members are under threat as unscrupulous employers deliberately underbid to win Supporting People and health contracts then try and do everything they can to destroy TUPE protections.

Many Housing management organisations are cash rich after years of inflation plus rent rises yet refuse to give their staff decent pay rises.

·         UNISON must be there to support members who stand up to employers who exploit them. 

As an NEC member there are a number of campaigns specific to our sector that I am actively supporting:

·         Living Wage Boards:  To decide the pay and conditions of all staff by collective bargaining including a living wage minimum and decent sickness benefits for all Community workers and agency/sub-contractors;

·         No public money for “union busters”: Any employer that does not have a trade union recognition agreement should be barred from access to public money either from local or national government;

·         We want decent pensions for all and everyone to have access to a safe and affordable scheme which will protect members’ futures;

·         Democratise our workplaces and stop our management boards being run by highly paid, unelected and unrepresentative “elites”. There should be union representation on all boards, especially their remuneration (pay) committees;

·         Adequate funding and resources for all UNISON branches that have Community members to ensure that we have the means to properly support and represent all.

You can contact me on any issues via johndotgray2012atbtinternetdotcom or ring me on 07977 285 297.  Please also support June Poole from Rochdale branch for the other Community Female seat. June and I will work closely as a team fighting your corner at the highest level in the union.

John Gray 

(Check out my recommendations for other regional and national seats here or on Facebook. 
All UNISON members should have received a ballot paper at their home address by now.
If not you should ring 0800 0857 857 for a duplicate. Lines open 6am to midnight, Monday to Friday and 9am to 4pm on Saturday. The ballot does not finish until May 15).

Campaigning for West Ham, Stratford & Thurrock


Picture collage of West Ham Labour Party campaigning for Polly Billington in the marginal seat of Thurrock and in Stratford & New Town ward.

In Stratford we managed to get into the new residential blocks either side of the High Street and were able to see some fantastic views over the area and the Queen Elizabeth Park.

West Ham are campaigning tonight in Ilford North from 6pm (Gants Hill HQ) and Stratford on Friday at 4pm. 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Workers Memorial at Three Mills Green Park,, Stratford, London

I went this evening to check out the memorial and the site for the remembrance ceremony next week.

On Tuesday 28 April it is Worker Memorial Day (also known as the International Day for Workers Safety). Which is a United Nations sponsored event supported in the UK by the HSE, TUC and CBI.

It is a day to remember those who were killed at work or have died from industrial injuries and diseases. It is also a campaigning day for the living.

My UNISON branch is organising a wreath laying ceremony in Three Mills Green, Stratford, East London. Further details to follow.

Check out this post about Workers Memorial Day and the tragedy at this site which the statute honours.

I think that this is a very special and important place for working class art and history which hardly anyone knows about. 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

How do you know whether to Vote Tory or not? New scientific research reveals all

Check out this completely neutral, unbiased and extremely scientific flow chart on how to decide whether or not you should vote Tory. 

UNISON's NEC Elections: No Need to reclaim our UNION...You already own it!

This is a great flyer supporting the candidates of light and reason who are standing in the UNISON National Executive Committee (NEC) elections.

A minority faction within the union who have been regularly beaten in past ballots are attacking the union's democratic processes.

It is a shame that at the same time that the union is battling employers and the Tory Government that some think it is acceptable to attack their own union and anyone who does not agree with them.

Win or lose my seat, I will accept the democratic process.

Check out my recommendations for other regional and national seats here or on Facebook.

All UNISON members should have received a ballot paper at their home address by now.

If not you should ring 0800 0857 857 for a duplicate. Lines open 6am to midnight, Monday to Friday and 9am to 4pm on Saturday. The ballot does not finish until May 15.

(Hat tip Chris Hanrahan)

Monday, April 20, 2015

Got a vote? Here's how to "Keep it Co-op"

If you are a voting member of the Co-operative Group you should have received a ballot paper for this year's crucial AGM.  If you believe it needs to retain its political voice and link with the Co-operative Party then vote "For" on motions 9 and 10.

Check out "Keep it Co-op" website

West Ham & East Ham Labour Campaigning Weekend


This is another picture collage of West Ham (and East Ham) Labour out campaigning this weekend.

There is a Stratford & New Town ward team in Abbey Lane, E15. While East and West Ham activists were out Sunday morning with Ilford South, Mike Gapes. In the afternoon, Stephen Twigg was at Ilford North to show support. I went door knocking with Tower Hamlets Councillors, Josh Peck, Danny Hassell and Redbridge Councillor, Stuart Bellwood.

We went to Roding ward where we a pretty good response. I spoke to a number of residents who despite being in their 20's were first time voters intending to vote in this election and those who were genuinely undecided who to vote for and were up for a  political conversation.

At one home Danny knocked at an enormous Rottweiler dog charged out of the doorway despite being called back by its owner, but after a few dodgy seconds we realised that it was very friendly and in fact as soft as butter.

Back at the Ilford North Campaign base I spoke to a fellow North Walian about Labour chances in Clwyd (North Wales) and than ran into more West Hammers returning from another door knocking team.

I couldn't resist including the fanatic picture of Labour Leader, Ed Miliband and the Chester Hen Party (top right) nor the picture of baby Juniper (daughter of Cllr Farah Nazeer) with the Kinnocks in Hampstead & Kilburn. 

Your country needs you...to VOTE (register by end of today Monday 20 April)

You have until the end of today, Monday 20 April to register to vote for the General Election. You can go to your local Council or go to https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote

It takes around 5 minutes and you just need your national insurance number (on pay slips, tax and pension notifications etc)

Remember all those who died or suffered to give you this right to vote.  Do not disrespect them.

No Vote: No Voice

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Union membership density and link to income going to the very wealthy

Check out Mind the Gap for further information on this USA chart which I think will mirror what has happened in the UK and other countries as well.

It is also about something I constantly go on about at work. The more of us in the union - the better the deal we will get from our employers.

Even the IMF (International Monetary Fund) seem to accept that that if we have more trade unions then the rich will not be able to exploit everyone else as much and that workers will get more pay and a fairer share of the cake.

This is long term and not short term but if you want more pay at work, job protection and better terms and conditions then join a union. Check out the TUC https://www.worksmart.org.uk/tools/union-finder (but check first to see if you can join UNISON. The best union in the world http://www.unison.org.uk/for-members/joining-unison/who-can-join/)


Labour will get rid of Katie Hopkins

Hat tip to Cambridgeshire University Labour club for this poster.

Katie Hopkins is the Sun columnist who recently called migrants "cockroaches"..."feral humans" and "doesn't care if migrants die while trying to leave their countries by boat" " even if she was shown “coffins and bodies floating in water” she would not be moved.

This was in response to the 400 migrants - men, women and children who drowned last week.

I was due once to debate pensions with this person on Radio 5 Live. However thankfully she pulled out of the interview. Imagine being in the same room as someone who thinks like this. 

Saturday, April 18, 2015

UNISON NEC Elections 2015: My London Region and National Ballot Paper


The UNISON postal ballot election for a new National Executive Committee started on 7 April but continues until 15 May (click on to enlarge). So there is still plenty of time for UNISON members to vote if they have not done so. 

This is a copy of my ballot paper and preferences. All UNISON members in London will have the same choices for Regional Seats, while all National members of Community Service Group (Housing Associations and Voluntary sector) will also have the same choice as me as do all UNISON members over the Black Members' seats. 

Check out my recommendations for other regional and national seats here or on Facebook

Congratulations to Irene and Ablola for being elected unopposed! 

(If you did not receive your ballot papers by 14 April you should ring 0800 0857 857 for a duplicate. Lines open 6am to midnight, Monday to Friday and 9am to 4pm on Saturday).

West Ham & Stratford Campaigning (and one reason why this General Election is so important)

Pictures of some of the West Ham Labour Party activists out campaigning with our Parliamentary Candidate, Lyn Brown and Stratford & New Town ward Candidate, Charlene McLean.

Yesterday evening in Stratford, Green Street this morning and this afternoon in Ilford North.

Check out below one of the reasons why I think this this election is so important. Remember that the Trussell Trust are not the only organisation handing our emergency food to hungry families.

"People reliant on food banks reaches one million

Figures from the Trussell Trust indicate the number of people relying on food banks will pass the one million mark this week. The number of people given three days' emergency food by the Trust rose from 2,814 in the 2005-06 financial year to 61,468 in 2010-11, 346,992 in 2012-13 before jumping to 913,138 in 2013-14 - including 582,933 adults and 330,205 children. Figures for 2014-15 are expected to show a continuing rise despite the upturn in the economy. 

Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Rachel Reeves described the 618% rise in the number receiving emergency food aid as “shocking” and called on David Cameron to sign up to a pledge to reduce the number relying on food banks. Meanwhile, the Yorkshire Post reports that one in five rural households is now officially classed as living in poverty...."
The Independent, Page: 1, 4   Independent i, Page: 4   Yorkshire Post, Page: 1

(Tomorrow - Sunday 19 April we are going to Ilford North for 2pm. Give me a ring if anyone wants a lift)

Friday, April 17, 2015

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

UNISON NEC Elections 2015: London Calling

If you have not received your ballot papers by (14 April) you should ring 0800 0857 857. Lines open 6am to midnight, Monday to Friday and 9am to 4pm on Saturday. Ballot closes 15 May.

Check out other national, regional and Black Members recommendations at UNISON NEC 2015 andFacebook 

Unions together for Labour: Rally for your rights - London Monday 27 April 2015

"Fight for your rights and join us at our Central London rally as we campaign to stop the sell-off of our NHS, for secure jobs – tackling insecurity and abolishing zero hour contracts, decent wages, rights at works –making employment justice a right not a privilege and solving the cost of living crisis.

In the most unpredictable election in a generation, the issues which matter to us could hang by a thread; by a few votes in the most marginal constituencies.

We will hear tub-thumping speeches from TUC General Secretary, Frances O’Grady, GMB’s Paul Kenny and TSSA’s Manuel Cortes as well as Harrow East Labour’s Uma Kumaran and more speakers yet to be announced!

This our last chance, as trade-unionists, to come together, and rally to stop the Tories by signing up to campaign for Labour where it’s most needed in the final stretches of the general election campaign.

Join us on the 27 April! Bring your trade union banners!
WHEN
April 27, 2015 at 6pm - 9pm
WHERE
University of London Union
Malet Street
London WC1E 7HY
United Kingdom
Google map and directions"

To attend you must RSVP here 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Keep it Co-op


On 16th of May, the 98-year old link between the Co-op Party and Co-op Group could be brought to an end. Sign up here to support the campaign to Keep it Co-op, and to check your eligibility to vote. 

UNISON's NEC Elections - Put our union and members first

If you have not received your ballot papers by today (14 April) you should ring 0800 0857 857. Lines open 6am to midnight, Monday to Friday and 9am to 4pm on Saturday. Ballot closes 15 May.

Check out other national, regional and Black Members recommendations at UNISON NEC 2015 and Facebook 

Monday, April 13, 2015

Bombs dropped in Greater London during the Blitz


This map and website is pretty amazing and frightening. It represents all the bombs dropped on London during the Blitz (7 October 1940 to 6 June 1941). Use Bombsite to find out the damage and location of bombs dropped in your locality if you live in London.

Remember this only records damage during the "Blitz" and that London and other cities suffered bombing throughout the war and V1/V2 rocket attacks.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

It's time to choose Labour #ED4PM


It will soon be time to choose. Who do you want as Prime Minster for the next 5 years. Cameron or Ed. "Unions together" (TULO) are reminding workers of the choices. Do they really want another 5 years of right wing, pro rich and anti worker policies?

Friday, April 10, 2015

"The overwhelming case for new public housing"

Check out new report by John Healey and John Perry at Red Brick

Makes perfect sense to me.

"At its core, the crisis is a simple calculation: we need to build 250,000 homes a year yet 2012-13 saw just 108,000 new homes completed, the lowest since the 1920s, rallying to a not much better 119,000 in 2013-14. 

Rather less than half what is needed. Healey and Perry emphasise that a bigger contribution is required from everybody - commercial housebuilders, housing associations and councils – but that “Above all, strong leadership and smart action from government is imperative....

Recent modelling by John Healey shows that working up to building 100,000 new social rented homes a year by the end of the next parliament would not only pay for itself in less than 30 years but provide a net benefit to the public purse of £12bn through lower housing benefit cost."

(Picture from Homes for Britain Rally last month)

UNISON NEC Elections 2015: Regional, Service Group & Black members recommendations













  • Regional Seats
East Midlands Region
Female seat – Nicole Berrisford
Male seat – Chris Tansley

Greater London Region
Female seats – Margaret Greer, Kim Silver
Male seat – Mike Davey

North West Region
General seat – Pat McDonagh
Female seats – Tracy Delaney, Michelle England
Male seat – Tony Harmson

Scotland Region
General seat – Jane Carolan
Female seats – Sandra-Dee Masson
Male seat – Gordon McKay

South East Region
Male seat – Steve Milford
Reserved seat – Jean Butcher

South West Region
Male seat – Mike Hines

Wales Region
Male seat – Mark Fisher
(Female & Reserved seats no preference)

West Midlands Region
Female seats – Carol Sewell, Eleanor Smith
Male seat – Jim Price

Yorkshire and Humberside Region
Female seats – Linda Crowther, Sue Highton
Male seat – John Campbell
  • Service Groups
Community Service Group
General seat – John Gray
Female seat – June Poole

Healthcare Service Group
General seat – James Anthony
Female seats – Christine Sullivan, Ann Moses
Male seat – Eric Roberts

Higher Education Service Group
Female seat – Elizabeth (Liz) Baptiste

Local Government Service Group
General seat – Daniel Godwin
Female seats – Wendy Nichols, Lynn Poulton
Male seat – Paul Gilroy

Police and Justice Service Group
General seat – Chris Hanrahan

Water, Environment and Transport Service Group
General seat – Fran Hill
  • National Black Members Seats
Female seats – Elizabeth Cameron
Male seat – Calvin Smeda

Any UNISON member who has not received a ballot paper by 14 April should call 0800 0 857 957 to request a ballot paper. Close of ballot is May 15.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Vote for London Health Candidates: UNISON NEC elections 2015

London Ambulance Service member, Eric Roberts, and Lewisham hospital nurse, Mike Davey, are standing as London health candidates on behalf of the forces of light and reason against the evil ones. 

National Seats: UNISON NEC Elections 2015

These are the candidates who are standing in UNISON National seats who I would  support (including myself of course!)

Check out UNISON NEC Elections blog and Facebook page for more details. 

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Everyone should pay their fair share of taxes

Totally and utterly agree. If you want to live in this country and enjoy its rule of law, relative low crime and social cohesion then you should at least pay the same marginal rate of taxation as your cleaner.

If you don't want to pay this then can we help you pack? 

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

UNISON Staff Choir first public performance


Fantastic treat tonight in the UNISON centre for NEC members and staff before the Presidents Charity fund raising quiz. Amazing performance by Choir which was much appreciated by audience.


Monday, April 06, 2015

UNISON NEC Elections 2015

Tomorrow (April 7) ballot papers should be starting to drop though the home letter boxes of 1.3 million UNISON members up and down the country.

Every 2 years all members of the UNISON National Executive Committee (NEC) are up for re-election. The UNISON website describes the work of the NEC as "Between conferences, an elected national executive council (NEC) decides on issues and campaigns, oversees the running of the union and works with UNISON staff to support members. NEC members represent UNISON to the wider world".

UNISON members will be able to vote for Service Group, Regional, Black, Female and Low paid committee members. If you are under 27 you can also vote for a Young member to represent you on the NEC.

I am standing for re-election as one of the two Community (General seat) NEC members. Community is the Service Group in UNISON for members who work in Housing Associations and the Voluntary Sector. June Poole is standing as well for the other Community (Female seat). June and I have worked together well in the past and are on a "joint ticket".

I will be posting recommendations about candidates who are standing for other NEC seats. This is in my personal capacity. Check out UNISON NEC 2015 Blog and Facebook page.

These elections are really important to the future of UNISON and I hope that there will be a good turn out of members who will vote and decide upon the leadership of the union for the next 2 years. 

Sunday, April 05, 2015

Happy 50th Birthday London Boroughs - time to change?


This is an interesting video commissioned by modern day London Councils to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the current London Borough arrangements. Before 1965 Newham had separate West Ham and East Ham Councils.

There has been massive changes in London during the past 50 years, so it is worth exploring whether or not there should be another review.

Maybe we need fewer than 33 boroughs in London and we should merge or perhaps existing structures are too big and we should decentralise? Or should we "pick and mix" and decide local government structures according to what makes sense. Some functions merged and others decentralised?

We should also look at tackling the democratic deficit in local government and the poor turnout in elections and participation.

I will be posting further on this (after May 7th).


Saturday, April 04, 2015

Easter Saturday at Ilford North

Picture collage is from this afternoon's campaigning for Wes Streeting as the future Labour MP for Ilford North.

We had 5 West Hammers (and 1 East Hammer) with us while Walhamstow PPC, Stella Creasy, was also there with her local activists to support Wes.

Beforehand the Green Street West team had been door knocking for West Ham PPC Lyn Brown.

All the Hammers went off as one canvass team, ably led by Aisha Siddiqah.

I knocked on one door and a man wearing work overalls opened it. He took one look at me and rolled his eyes and shook his head. I said that I obviously hadn't made his day by knocking at his door this afternoon. He said no, he was just tired, since he had been up since 3am that morning for work as a lorry driver. He admitted he was also a life long Conservative voter. We had a brief chat about work (I used to have a Class 1 HGV driving licence) and I left him to have his well deserved sleep.

Soon afterwards I knocked at another door and a young women answered and she seemed really pleased and interested to see me and listen to what I had to say (unfortunately, this is not a common response I must admit. Even when I was much younger).

I explained to her how important this election and how we must get Wes elected. She said that she had never voted before but did intend to vote this time. She looked quite young and I wasn't even sure she was over 18, so I asked how old she was? She said 26. I asked why she had never voted beforehand and she said that she didn't really know but she will definitely, definitely vote this time.

Back at Ilford North HQ I met up with top Musicians union activist and Redbridge Councillor, Barbara White (see top right of collage).

We actually had a good door knock session and identified many Labour supporters in quite a Tory ward.

According to YouGov the result in Ilford North is "too close to call". It is absolutely imperative that Labour supporters move out of their local comfort zones and if they live in secure Labour seats then they must go and support our candidates in marginal seats such as Ilford North.

If we win in the marginals we will form a Labour Government on May 8th. If we don't win the marginals, then Labour will be in opposition again and our MPs will have little or no power to champion and protect their constituents. QED

Friday, April 03, 2015

Walk of Witness - Easter Friday

Shortly after I blogged on my "Vote Labour" poster in my window there was outside the annual Easter "Walk of Witness" by local Churches, who gathered at the Joseph Fry Memorial drinking fountain in Wansted flats.

Vote Labour 2015 Window Poster

My 2015 General Election "Vote Labour" window poster has just gone up. Now, I have my doubts that window posters actually change people's voting intentions.  If there are many of them in an area they can portray presence and local support but I think their main role in modern political discourse is to please our activists and annoy the opposition.

UPDATE: I have just signed up for a Labour Party Garden Board. You can also apply for window posters. 

Thursday, April 02, 2015

UNISON Housing Associations: Branch Organiser Job Vacancy


UNISON (Housing Associations Branch)

Location: London . Salary: £34,633 inc LW (pay award pending) . Hours: 35 hours per week . About the job: Please note that this is a branch-employed post.

The Branch Organiser is a new role within the Unison Housing Associations branch. The focus of this role is on recruiting, developing and supporting branch activists and supporting recruitment activity across the branch.

As part of the branch team the Branch Organiser will also use mapping and campaigning to help develop union organisation across the branch’s employers. They will provide initial advice to members and activists and will represent members at some formal hearings.

Candidates will be enthusiastic and flexible, preferably with a background in the trade union movement. They will have some experience representing and advising members on employment matters, and an ability to use their own initiative and prioritise their own workload.

The UNISON Housing Associations branch represents over 3,000 members employed by social housing organisations across London. The staff team is a small team of four operating out of the branch’s offices on the Holloway Road but regular travel to employer locations across Greater London is essential.

Salary £34,633 inc. LW of £5,046 (pay award pending), full-time (35 hrs/week) This is a permanent position with a six-month probation period. Closing date: Fri 17 Apr 2015 - 17:00 . Interview date: Wed 29 Apr 2015 .

Further information: http://unisonhablondon.org/ . Further information: Applications should be sent to JosephineDOTgrahlATunisonhablondonDOTorg to arrive by 5pm on Friday 17th April. Interviews will be held on Wednesday 29th April.

Click for Job description, person specification and application form

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

100 business creeps: Labour threatens our cosy fat cat life

"Today big Tory Business lines up to attack ED Miliband and Labour by sending a letter to a right wing paper saying it would be a disaster if Labour are elected.... Look carefully at these companies and individuals.

They comprise of Corporate Tax Dodgers, Minimum Wage Payers, Anti-Union, Tory Party Donors, Multi Millionaire Chair's of Companies who think Tax Avoidance is their right.

They are worried that their cosy fat cat life will be challenged, that's why they are backing the Tories with this predictable "Open Letter Nonsense "If it wasn't April Fools Day I would have said it was a sick joke....."

Well said Mr Rayner, I couldn't put it better myself.

Let's Keep it Co-op Together.


If you are a member of the Co-op - check out this video on how to keep the co-operative partnership between the Co-op Group and the Co-op Party.

Work together in cooperation for a fairer Britain.