Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Nominate John & Denise for UNISON NEC Community seats 2019

The UNISON National Executive Council (NEC) is our  union parliament which oversees the running of the union in between our annual National Conference, which are held each year in in June. UNISON members vote every 2 years by postal ballot to their home addresses for NEC representatives.

Denise and I are asking UNISON branches that have "Community" members (those who work for Voluntary sector and Housing Associations) to nominate us for the forthcoming election. There are over 500 such branches and we have emailed all of them.

You can download nomination forms and election guidance here. You have until 15 Feb to hold a qualifying branch or committee meeting.

Denise is employed in the voluntary sector and I am employed by a large national housing association. Check out our Facebook page
https://www.facebook.com/JohnandDenise4CommunityNEC/?modal=admin_todo_tour

Ballot papers are sent out from 15 April.

Many thanks for consideration

John & Denise

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Campaigning for a Fairer private rented sector

This is a model housing motion from London Labour Housing Group. It makes perfect sense to me. I have submitted to West Ham GC as a UNISON delegate.  

"This conference notes:

1.That the number of households in London who rent from private landlords is up from 15% in 2000 to 27% in 2017 and that Shelter forecast that nationally this growth will continue.

2. The lack of security for private tenants causes unnecessary homelessness and makes it very difficult for private tenants to lead settled lives.

3. High rents in this sector cause hardship for tenants and leads to the taxpayer subsidizing private landlords via housing benefit.

4. Shelter believe that the reasons behind Labour winning in Canterbury and Kensington is due to the number of private tenants voting Labour ( the rentquake).

Conferences therefore calls upon the London Labour Party:

1. To hold a London wide campaign day in 2019 for Labour’s proposal to improve the private rented sector.

2. To produce campaign materials for constituency labour parties on the private rented sector.

3. To set up an on -line petition to call for an end to no fault evictions and rent controls for the private rented sector.

4. To produce guidance for all Labour Council Groups and constituency labour parties on how the Letting Fees bill currently in Parliament should be enforced by local councils.

5. To ask the London Mayor to produce a vision for the private rented sector in the capital and to make the reform of the private rented sector a key political issue in the manifesto for the 2020 London elections.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Newham RMS report to Extraordinary Council meeting 22 January 2019

"*Stop Press* Papers for next week's Extraordinary Full Council at 7.30pm Stratford Town Hall - open to all Newham London residents and public. All welcome. You'll find out what really happened in the council's Highways Repairs & Maintenance which led to a £8.6 million overspend before May 2018. Plus what we plan to do next. #transparency Hat tip Mayor Fiaz. 

Sunday, January 13, 2019

NEC Elections 2019: Community General Seat & Female Seat Nomination Request (2)

John Gray & Denise Thomas
RMS 3083288 RMS 8688788



If you are a Community UNISON member please ask your branch to nominate us. They have all been sent our nomination requests. 

We deserve a Pay Rise!

Care and support staff wages in particular are under threat as unscrupulous employers deliberately underbid to win contracts then try and do their upmost to destroy TUPE protections.

Many Housing management organisations are cash rich after years of rent rises yet still refuse to give their staff decent pay rises. In the voluntary sector employers are funding the National Living wage by attacking terms and conditions and increasing workloads.

Both of us as NEC and SGE members have been working and campaigning with branches and regions to oppose these measures. We believe that Community members must play our part in opposing Austerity and arguing for an alternative economic policy. We need to pull together and get rid of the current UK government

We also support the Community specific campaigns below such as:-

Better funding & resources for branches that support Community members. Community workers often work for small employers and in isolated workplaces.

Campaign for Inclusive Workplace policies by employers

No public money for “union busters”. Any employer that does not have a trade union recognition agreement should be barred from grants or contracts from local or national governments.

Sector Wage Councils. Set up to decide the pay and conditions of all staff by collective bargaining including a living wage minimum for all Community workers and agency/sub-contractors.

UNISON Ethical Care Charter. All employers must be called upon to support and sign up.

Better governance and democracy. Increasingly many of our employer management boards are run by highly paid unelected and unrepresentative “elites”. There should be union employee representation on all Community Trust or management boards, especially remuneration committees (if applicable)

Defend Pensions. Protect the Social Housing Pension fund and the Pension Trust from further cuts. Access to a decent defined benefit pension scheme for all.

Better health & safety at work in particular protecting members by supporting the “End Violence at Work” charter.

Recruit & train more activists to support members

We believe that we would both work together well as your Community NEC team. While Denise’s employer is a charity, John’s is a housing association, so we represent and complement both of the major sectors in the Community Service Group.

If you would like either of us to come and attend a branch meeting or hustings (under UNISON election rules) then please let us know and if we can, we will be delighted to come and speak.

You can contact Denise by denise_thomas2@msn.com or John on john.gray2012@icloud.com

Part 1 was https://www.johnslabourblog.org/2019/01/nec-elections-2019-community-general.html

Saturday, January 12, 2019

UNISON Membership Services - latest deals and offers

These are the info and links to the newest deals from UNISON Membership Service Providers. I always check these links before I buy any service. Sometimes they not the most competitive but usually they are and you can be reassured that they have been vetted

I like the slogan "We’re always looking out for you when you’re at work, but there’s much more to life".

There is of course also the lovely UNISON owned beach holiday resort in Croyde Bay!

UNISON Health & Dental Plans

'Win a £2,000 Holiday' with UNISON Health & Dental Plans Enter the Free Prize Draw exclusively for UNISON members below.

Get your NHS dental bills repaid in full up to £500 per year.

Join today to get your money back each time you visit your NHS dentist.

To find out more about the UNISON NHS Dental Plan and to enter the Free Prize Draw Click Here <http://comms.unionbenefits.co.uk/unison-dental-plan-prize-draw-apply-now>

Prefer to get your money back on everyday health expenses like trips to the opticians as well as the dentists?

You can with the UNISON Health Plan. To find out more and to enter the Free Prize Draw Click Here<http://comms.unionbenefits.co.uk/unison-health-plan-prize-draw-apply-now>

Welfare/There for You

Get help with winter fuel bills

UNISON members living on a low income constantly struggle to make ends meet - and this can be particularly acute in the winter when the cost of heating homes rises as the outside temperature falls.

UNISON's welfare charity There for You has a limited fund to help members on low incomes towards the cost of their winter fuel bill through a one-off payment of £60.

Contact UNISON Direct on 0800 0857 857 for a form to be sent to you - or download:

Winter Fuel Grant application form<https://www.unison.org.uk/content/uploads/2018/12/Final-Winter-Fuel-Grant-Application-Form-2018-19.pdf>,

Winter Fuel Grant Q&A<https://www.unison.org.uk/content/uploads/2018/12/Final-Winter-Fuel-Grant-Q-and-A-2018-19.pdf>,

Winter Fuel Grant poster<https://www.unison.org.uk/content/uploads/2018/12/Final-Winter-Fuel-Grant-Poster-2018-19.pdf>

Completed applications need to be sent to There for You, (WFG) UNISON Centre, 130 Euston Road, London, NW1 2AY by Friday 15 February 2019 at the latest https://www.unison.org.uk/get-help/services-support/there-for-you/

LV

LV= is UNISONs approved Car insurance provider and UNISON members have been enjoying exclusive discounts on LV= Car and Breakdown insurance for many years.

We're excited to now offer UNISON members our new Multi Car policy that gives UNISON members discounts on every car.

With this new multi car policy UNISON members can:

· Add up to 6 cars and 12 drivers on one policy

· Add all cars at the same time, schedule some for later or add them in afterwards

· Choose the cover level and specific optional extras you'd like for each car

· All cars will share the same renewal date

For more information on multi car, breakdown cover, motorbike, classic car and caravan insurance head to https://www.lv.com/UNISON 21820-2018

Vision Express

For January only, exclusive for Unison Members:

- FREE eye test, no minimum spend. Offer valid from 01.01.19 - 31.01.19.

- Current national offer or save £30 on complete glasses

- 3-months supply of soft disposable contact lenses when joining our contact lens direct debit scheme (Complete Contact Care) - terms and conditions apply

- 10% off non prescription sunglasses

- Additional vouchers for a family member or friend HOW TO CLAIM

1. Click http://www.visionexpress.com/unison

2. You will be redirect to a new page

3. Fill out the form to register

4. Your vouchers will be emailed to you

5. Show your vouchers in store

Union Energy

If you're paying more than £1,137 a year for gas and electricity then go to our website to see if you could switch and save at www.unionenergy.co.uk<http://www.unionenergy.co.uk> or telephone 0800 094 9039 quoting Unison.

UNISON Credit Union - Christmas Club Savings Accounts

Membership of London Capital Credit Union is open to any union member in Greater London. Now is the time to start thinking about a Christmas Club for 2019.

If you are about to get a big post-Xmas credit card bill, why not consider a low cost credit union loan to clear your credit card?

Find out more by visiting> https://www.credit-union.coop/index.asp

UNISONProtect, UNISON Prepaid and UNISON Rewards
A summary of some of our products:

* Straightforward insurance for when life gets unexpectedly complicated, including life cover, accident covers and female cancer cover - www.UNISONProtect.com<http://www.UNISONProtect.com>

* Free £5,000 Accidental Death Cover - 12 months of cover for UNISON members aged 18-69. Annually Renewable & Always Free - www.UNISONProtect.com/rs<http://www.UNISONProtect.com/rs>

* UNISON Prepaid Card - Did you know as a UNISON member you can earn unlimited cash back on your everyday shopping at a wide range of major retailers, including Sainsbury's, Argos ASDA and Boots?

For more details and to apply for your card visit www.unisonprepaid.com/winning<http://www.unisonprepaid.com/winning>.

The UNISON Prepaid Plus Cash back Card is arranged by Union Income Ltd.

* UNISON Rewards - Shop online and earn cash back savings from hundreds of retailers, like B&Q, Argos and Tesco.

It's free to join, plus you'll get a FREE £10 Welcome Bonus in your online account! (Terms and conditions apply) Sign up today at www.UNISONrewards.com/bonus<http://www.UNISONrewards.com/bonus>

UNISON an introducer appointed representative of UNISONProtect who arrange all cover and are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. The free accidental death cover is underwritten by Advent Insurance PCC Ltd - UIB Cell.

UNISON Croyde Bay Resort
DOUBLE UNISON DISCOUNT - NOW 30% OFF

Includes all dates March 1st - December 1st 2019 Book by March 2nd - full details https://www.croydeunison.co.uk/unison-double-discount/

"Delivering Municipal Socialism" Cllr Clare Coghill - Newham Fabians

"Dear all please note the postponed Newham Fabians talk by Cllr Clare Coghill, Leader of Waltham Forest Council has been rescheduled for 05th March 2019 now. We hope to see many of you there" 
Secretary Cllr Rohit Dasgupta. 

Friday, January 11, 2019

People’s Budget Forums video



"Mayor Rokhsana Fiaz and her Cabinet members have listened to the views of residents and put forward proposals for how Newham Council intends to spend money on what people say is important.
Join us at our next People’s Budget Forums to find out more and have your say. For dates, times and registration, visit www.newham.gov.uk/NewhamPeoplesBudget"


Hat tip #NewhamLondon

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Exiting the EU – Defending our rights and securing our public services

Hat tip http://classonline.org.uk/blog/item/exiting-the-eu-defending-our-rights-and-securing-our-public-services. "For workers in public services, Brexit is a hot topic. Colleagues in the hospital where I work often ask me, ‘what on earth is going on?’ with conversations rarely going beyond what a shambles it all is. In a country that is hugely divided over Europe, there is one issue that appears to unify many remain and leave supporters. That Brexit is a complete and utter mess.

And there’s little wonder public service workers are feeling like this. Nearly two and a half years after the referendum, and only a matter of months before the UK is set to leave the EU, the government is in crisis. It’s unlikely to muster the majority needed to pass its draft Withdrawal Agreement, and May has allowed the meaningful vote in parliament to be delayed until January.

As the largest trade union in the country with 1.3 million members, UNISON cannot accept May’s deal nor a no deal, as both pose a great threat to the workers we represent and the public services they provide.

Although critical of the EU’s agenda, UNISON backed staying in the EU and most trade union members supported us in that call, according to TUC research. We have accepted the result even though we don’t accept some of the claims made by the Leave campaign.

What we cannot accept though is the direction outlined in the political declaration. The Conservative vision is of a free trade deal that would promote a new race to the bottom for workers’ rights, consumer standards and environmental regulation, and open up public services to global liberalisation.

Our members campaigned vigorously against the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and other global free trade agreements for the very same reasons. That they would undermine rights and protections along with our key public services, and enable multinationals to challenge those rights and services in opaque courts of arbitration. We cannot allow exiting the EU to take us further down that path.

Protecting workers rights
Many of the rights workers enjoy today resulted from the EU. The transition period in the withdrawal agreement would see current rights safeguarded. However, UK workers would start to fall behind the protections offered to other workers in the EU because only rights implemented before the end of the transition period would apply.

Peace and prosperity in Northern IrelandWith UNISON members crossing our only land border on a daily basis, Northern Ireland and preventing a hard border is key for UNISON. An advocate for peace we are proud of our role in the Good Friday Agreement, and the one we continue to play in promoting peace.

The reckless way that some discounted the impact of peace in Northern Ireland is a disgrace. A hard border would be a disaster and appear to be an unwelcome return to the times of army and police checkpoints.

The backstop position has become the focus of much attention because, as weak as it is, it does make provision for rights not to fall below common EU-UK standards. This border agreement also includes some limited protection for human rights and equality, issues so important to both sides of the community who are dealing with the legacy of conflict.

We fully support the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU), representing workers on both sides of the border, whose position is that a no deal scenario is unacceptable.

The future relationship UNISON wants to see
UNISON has created six tests that a future EU-UK deal would have to pass. Based on our annual conference decision, these are aimed at protecting our members’ rights, and public services:
Protect existing health and safety and workers rights through a level playing field of regulations, with a non-regression clause, an enforcement mechanism and accessible dispute mechanism that enforces the adherence and future upgrade on these rights.
Protect public services from a bad economic deal that will prevent growth of the UK economy, continue public service austerity instead of increased funding, lower living standards and offer less training and skills opportunities for workers. 
Keep UK public services out of global trade deals, maintain only the existing beneficial social provisions in public procurement regulations, expand the right to public ownership and the positive use of State Aid. 
Safeguard rights, standards and regulations (e.g. employment, health and safety, consumer and environment) and any new EU measures in the future so that they cannot be weakened in the UK through any future trade deals with non-EU countries like the USA. 
Maintain existing equality and human rights, EU citizen rights, EU freedom of movement.
Prevent a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, uphold the Good Friday Agreement and respect the devolution legislation of the Governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

UNISON does not believe that these tests are met by the proposed deal outlined by the Prime Minister. Labour’s plans though for a comprehensive EU-UK customs arrangement and access to a new single market deal have the best chance of meeting them.

We are therefore calling for a general election and for the election of a Labour government.

But, as the withdrawal date draws nearer, we’re clear that no deal is no option, that an election will take time to hold, and a new deal time to negotiate.

The message from all this is that Parliament needs to take control, seek to extend or withdraw article 50, and work together. This is the only way to prevent the UK crashing out without a deal.

And it’s the only way to resolve the turmoil that currently is Brexit".

James Anthony is a member of UNISON's National Executive Council

Wednesday, January 09, 2019

Newham People’s Budget Forums

Hat tip Newham Council - Mayor Rokhsana Fiaz and her Cabinet members have listened to the views of residents and put forward proposals for how Newham Council intends to spend money on what people say is important.​​​​


join us at one of our Newham People’s Budget Forums to find out how the council is funded, the 2019/20 budget proposals, and​ how you would like to be involved in future budget decisions.
​Community Neighbourhood​Date​Time​Venue
Beckton & Royal Docks​​Wednesday 16 January​6.30-9pmBeckton Community Centre​, 14 East Ham Manor Way, Beckton, E6 5NG
​East Ham​​Monday 21 January​6.30-9pm​Newham Town Hall, Barking Road, East Ham, E6 2RP
​Stratford & West Ham​Thursday 24 January​10.30am- 1pm​Old Town Hall, Stratford, 29 The Broadway, Stratford, E15 4BQ
To register for your place, visit www.newham.gov.uk/PeoplesBudgetForum or email any comments to Peoples.Budget@newham.gov.uk​ 

People's budget proposals 

The Mayor presented her initial 2019/20 people’s budget proposals to Cabinet which include:
  • ​Investing £3m to pay our care staff the London Living Wage 
  • Investing £1.4m into youth services to keep our young people safe
  • ​Investing £6.3m so that primary school children continue to eat for free
  • Investing £10.6m into Children’s Services
  • Investing £1.3m to support children with Special Educational Needs
  • £1.4m to support 19,000 lowest income households by cutting the cost of their Council Tax
  • Investing £390,000 for free bulky waste collections
  • Accelerating social housing delivery with an additional £500,000
  • Investing £250,000 to ensure residents are at the heart of our decision making process.
The proposed investment is influenced by what residents have said, during Citizens’ Assemblies, is important; what councillors say residents have told them are the things they value; and from discussions with partner organisations. The final proposals will be considered by Full Council in February.

Mayor Fiaz said: “Over the past six years, the Government has drastically reduced the funding that we use to deliver services for our residents by almost £91m. In 2019/20 we will need to save at least another £8m lost from Government funding, and we can expect to have to save more in the years after that.

“What we decide now will provide us with a new and different type of budget. It is set to be truly transformative and would allow us to make some of the most radical changes this council has seen in years to the benefit of Newham residents. As well as delivering on manifesto promises, what is being proposed is what residents are saying are priorities; it is a people’s budget.

“And we cannot just think about next year; this has to part of a people’s budget process across the whole four years of this administration. The 2019/20 budget is a transitional one and, if approved, will be a balanced budget.”

To support the 2019/20 proposals, the council needs to make some tough decisions, including a proposed increase in Council Tax of 2.9 per cent alongside a two per cent rise in the precept towards the costs of providing adult social care, while at the same time reducing the burden on those least able to pay.

Councillor Terry Paul, Cabinet member for finance, said: “In terms of cold hard cash, this would mean asking residents for just 89p extra per week at Band D properties to cover the proposed increase in the Newham element of Council Tax. Alongside a planned programme of savings, this will give residents access to a whole raft of additional benefits in services as well as not having to reduce what we spend on libraries, parks, street lighting and cleaning, road repairs and leisure services for example.”

“Newham Council hasn’t asked for any extra Council Tax from residents for the past ten years. This has meant £82m has been unavailable to us that we could have spent on vital services. Whatever we decide, we will make sure the right support is available for the families who are the least able to pay. We will also continue to save as much money as we can by being more efficient in everything we do.”

To protect vulnerable residents against the proposed increase, the Mayor is looking to increase the support available to 19,000 lowest income families with a variety of measures including extending support to tenants dealing with bad landlords and making care leavers exempt from paying Council Tax until the age of 25. There are also proposed changes to the Council Tax Reduction Scheme, which could reduce the amount eligible residents have to pay in Council Tax to just 10 per cent of the bill, potentially saving them almost £120 per year.

Listening to residents is part of the council’s commitment to openness and culture change within the authority. Mayor Fiaz added: “Our successful Citizens’ Assemblies have told us what our residents value. We have listened and this budget will enable us to build on what we offer.”

There will be Citizens’ Assemblies in January for residents to have conversations about the budget proposals. Details will be published on this page www.newham.gov.uk/newhampeoplesbudget​ 

Residents can offer their views on the proposed change to the Council Tax Reduction Scheme through an online survey until 16 January. Currently, households eligible for the scheme pay a minimum of 20 per cent of their Council Tax bill. The consultation will ask whether this should be reduced to 10 per cent, 15 per cent or stay the same.

To take part in the consultation, visit www.newham.gov.uk/CTRconsultation or if you have any questions or would like to request a paper copy of the questionnaire please email CTRconsultation@newham.gov.uk​

(who can say politics doesn't matter)

Tuesday, January 08, 2019

UNISON NEC Elections 2019: Nominate John Gray & Denise Thomas for Community Seats (1)



NEC Elections 2019: Community General Seat & Female Seat Nomination Request

John Gray                                                                                         Denise Thomas
RMS 3083288                                                                                  RMS 8688788

7 January 2019

Dear Branch Secretary

Your branch is entitled to nominate candidates to the two Community seats for this year’s National Executive Council elections. We request that your branch considers nominating John Gray for the General Seat and Denise Thomas for the Female seat.

Denise is currently the Major Charities representative on the Community Service Group Executive (SGE). She is also a grassroots UNISON activist holding positions as Branch Black Members Officer and Welfare officer for Ymlaen/Forward Cymru Wales.  Ymlaen/Forward Branch has over 4500 Community members in over 400 organisations. Denise is the secretary of the UNISON Black Workers Self Organised Group and sits on her regional committee and women’s committee. 

John is currently the Community NEC General seat representative and has been an activist in UNISON for many years and held a number of branch and regional positions including Treasurer, Health & Safety, Welfare, Labour Link, International officer and Assistant Secretary.  He is employed by a large Housing Association and is the Branch Secretary of the Greater London Housing Associations Branch which has over 3000 Community members. Recently he led a successful campaign that resulted in UNISON winning a ballot by a massive majority in favour of trade union recognition.

Denise has a background working in the Voluntary and Community sector for the past 26yrs supporting Adults with learning disabilities. As a branch activist Denise has focused on organising, recruitment and representing members to get a fair pay deal within her organisation.  As a regional activist and SGE member she has fought to promote equality and inclusive work places.

John has served the union as a NEC member on the Policy and Development Committee, Trustee on the UNISON staff pension fund, National Labour link and is a trustee of UNISON “there for you” (Welfare) fund Committee & Vice-Chair Industrial action committee.

(more details to follow) 

Monday, January 07, 2019

A good news story - Baby Maria is safe

Mayor and thanks all residents who supported the search for missing Maria.

Sunday, January 06, 2019

"Social housing report calls for massive overhaul of tenants’ rights Renters need better deal to prevent another Grenfell disaster, says the Social Housing Commission"

Completely agree.  Tenants have no collective voice, little power and very mixed protection. While the public sector is not at all perfect the private sector needs complete fundamental reform. 
"Sweeping new powers must be given to social tenants as part of an overhaul needed to ensure a Grenfell-style disaster never happens again, a powerful cross-party commission will warn this week.
It found that social tenants are being failed by a system that leaves them waiting an average of eight months before their complaints are investigated, even when their safety could be at risk.
The calls for a once-in-a-generation rethink of tenants’ rights come from the Social Housing Commission, a year-long investigation brought together by the charity Shelter following the Grenfell Tower fire in which 72 people died. Its commissioners include the former Labour leader Ed Miliband, the Conservative former cabinet minister Sayeeda Warsi and the campaigner Doreen Lawrence, whose son Stephen was murdered in a racist attack in 1993. Lawrence said few people in positions of power “understand what this experience [being a social tenant] is like”.
“I doubt they’ve ever had to live in poor housing or know what it is like to feel invisible, like no one cares,” she said. “The case for investing in social housing is overwhelming. We cannot solve the housing crisis without it, but the system must be made more responsive to tenants at the same time.”
The commission is demanding a regulator with similar muscle to the body set up in the aftermath of the financial crisis to fix a system that has left social tenants feeling ignored or branded as troublemakers for raising serious concerns. The panel is also calling for a “significant expansion” of new social housing as well as comprehensive changes to the way the sector is run. The commission has spent a year researching the housing emergency, with 31,000 people responding to its consultation exercise.
One of the main findings is how the current regulatory system is failing social renters. In 2017-18 the average time taken for a decision by the housing ombudsman was eight months. Deep frustrations were expressed to the commission by both private renters and those in social-rented accommodation. The commission’s full report is published on Tuesday".