Monday, October 31, 2022

"Do you know about work-related stress? Take the test"

Hat tip to the Health & Safety Executive & IOSH. If you care about stress at work and what to do about it then give this short quiz a go.

"A report from Deloitte puts the total annual cost of poor mental health to UK employers at £56 billion – that’s 25 per cent up on 2019. Test your knowledge of this growing issue with the HSE quiz".

Sunday, October 30, 2022

Labour National Day of Action Canvass and Newham Labour Unions feedback on Lab22 Conference


Yesterday was a bit busy. In morning I helped out my UNISON branch to empty its office in Holloway Road then in the afternoon, I was a panel speaker at an informal feedback session in Newham to talk to Labour Union members on the recent Labour Party Conference in Liverpool. 

Well done to Panel Chair (and organiser) Liz Booker and my fellow panelists Unmesh Desai (our local London Assembly member and GMB activist) and Rita Chadha (Community) for their excellent presentations. There was a wide range of people in the audience who challenged us with really good questions and comments. Local East Ham MP, Stephen Timms, spoke at the end with his thoughts on Conference and "recent" political events.

In my introductory remarks I described what I believe the unions want from the Labour Party (win power at Westminster to protect us from hostile judges  and employers!) and also how I became a UNISON Labour Link delegate at the recent conference and what we did as delegates. 

I told my very favourite quote from former TGWU  union leader, Jack Jones, who when he was asked if could ever imagine the unions becoming divorced from the Labour Party, he replied "Divorce? Never. Murder, often"

After the feedback, we were split into 2 canvass teams and I went out in East Ham to speak to residents with Stephen and all the 3 local ward Councillor members. On the whole it was a very positive canvass and residents seemed pleased to see us coming to them, knocking on doors and speaking to them. 

Saturday, October 29, 2022

Time to say goodbye to our UNISON office & look forward to becoming a "virtual branch"

It was with mixed emotions this morning I travelled to my UNISON branch office in Holloway Road, Islington. Volunteers from the branch executive were meeting up to empty the office, since we had given notice to our landlord. As the former branch secretary (and still a member of the executive) I have lots of memories of this office. Many, many good - some not so good but such is the life of all UNISON branch secretaries'.

There is so much stuff to sort out, pack away for secure storage, recycle or securely dispose. The oldest documentation I came across was UNISON guidance on car allowance payments from 1998! 

After the pandemic, the branch executive decided that since we had been able to function (admittedly imperfectly) pretty "well",  that we did not need to spend £18,000 per year on an office in North London. This money and other traditional administration costs, will be better spent on training, equipment and campaigning. However we all accept, while virtual calls and meetings can be a brilliant way of collaborative working and communicating they are no substitute for "face to face" contact, when such interaction is needed.  

The branch covers all of Greater London (and sometimes beyond) and has a membership of over 3000 members who work for some 150 different employers in multiple often fragmented workplaces. We think it is far more effective for staff to work from home (and they are paid a home working allowance) and travel direct to support members at workplaces rather than from a central office. 

This reflects how many of us work (not all obviously if you work in estate services or projects) already in the sector. It is not just about spending members subscriptions more efficiently but about providing better services and ability to organise. 

We will still hire rooms for staff meetings, training and consultations as well as 121s. All staff  have access to UNISON online case work management (hopefully all reps as well soon), emails, mobile phones and laptops. Hybrid Executive and branch meeting will take place. I think everyone is conscious that some workers find working from home very difficult. 

This is a radical move for what used to be quite a traditional UNISON branch. It may not work and we may have to think again but I am excited about the prospect of this succeeding. In the meanwhile we have office furniture and equipment to get rid of and decades of files and documents to sort out. I think that before we hand back the keys, we must have a party to celebrate our past and look forward to the future. 

Check out my post from 2011 on our last branch office move


Friday, October 28, 2022

Moment PM Rishi Sunak gets stern telling off to 'try harder' over nurses...

"The arrogance of @RishiSunak, thinking he can pose for a nice video clip at Croydon Hospital, whilst simultaneously cutting NHS workers pay in real terms!! Well done to this patient for calling him out!" #NHSPay #CROYDON (hat tip Joel Bodmer UNISON Greater London Regional Officer supporting 3 front line Health branches)

Thursday, October 27, 2022

Vote Yes for the NHS -


It’s time to take a stand for your pay, your colleagues and the NHS – every vote is needed.
Voting to take industrial action is a big step. But it’s time to take it. The public supports you - and so do your colleagues and your union.

Your pay matters. If we can’t make the government think again and negotiate with us, everyone loses- staff, patients and the NHS.

You can’t afford that. Make your vote count.

Vote YES for industrial action. Vote YES for the NHS.

UNISON’s industrial action ballot in the NHS in England opens on 27 October and closes on 25 November. Ballot papers will be sent by post to your home address. If you haven’t received a ballot paper call our ballot helpline free on 0800 0 857 857. Helpline will be open from 1 November until noon on 21 November.
Why vote yes?

More about voting Yes

Timetable for NHS pay industrial action ballot – England

27 October

Ballot opens – ballot papers posted out

1 November

Ballot hotline opens

15 November

Last date to join to guarantee a ballot paper

21 November

Ballot hotline closes at noon

25 November

Ballot closes: papers must be received by this date

Soon after

Results issued, along with update on next steps

This is a fight we need to win – and we can only do it together. So, let’s get going and get out the vote!

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

United Colours of Europe - Newham 5.11.22

This looks like a marvellous event but unfortunately I have a clash. Many thanks to Councillor Larisa Zilickaja for her work in organising this important event. 

 "We invite you to the event

                                          ‘United Colours of Europe’

                                           Saturday 5th November,2022

                                                       2pm – 6pm

                                                                                      Katherine Road Community Centre, 254 Katherine Road, E7 8PN 

 I am pleased to invite you to our event ‘United Colours of Europe’, where the Albanian, Bulgarian, Lithuanian, Romanian and Ukrainian communities come together!

The aim of the event is to introduce different European communities to local residents,

to bring people together from different backgrounds!

 The programme of the event:


-          Formal speeches

-          Interactive activities: workshops, information stalls, Arts and crafts for adults and kids, face painting

-          Traditional dancing/singing

-          Traditional food tasting.

-          Refreshments

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Labour Party Conference 2022 - Final Day 4 Wednesday


Belated post on final day of Labour Party conference in Liverpool. I went for an early morning run in sunshine (for a change) then had to check out of hotel room and leave my suitcase with them. 

A great morning session of speeches then our deputy leader, Angela Rayner, closed conference with a superb speech following by traditional singing of "The Red Flag" and "Jerusalem".  Somewhat different lyrics from "God Save the King" on day one. 

On Saturday there will be a feedback session in Newham on Party conference before canvassing for the National Day of Action

Monday, October 24, 2022

No one voted for this.

Well said. Johnson withdrew probably because the economy is in such a mess and Truss is well gone but let no one forget that while Rishi is thankfully competent, he is a right wing rich posh boy. 

We need a General Election now but since Turkeys do not vote for Christmas then it seems very unlikely any time soon. But after recent political events who knows...

Sunday, October 23, 2022

Greater London UNISON Regional Council Meeting - Key Note speaker David Lammy MP

Last week I had to "last minute" chair the virtual Regional Council meeting of UNISON Greater London Region. Our Regional convenor, Yvonne Green, was on holiday in the Caribbean and had tried to join the meeting to chair (despite being silly O'Clock over there) but had internet problems. Our deputy Convenor, Conroy Lawrence was our delegate at  the physical TUC conference. 

The meeting was held virtually due to requests from our NHS/health branches, since they are in the midst of the industrial action ballot on pay and are working their socks off to get a good turnout and hopefully, a positive result in favour of industrial action. 

So, as Regional Finance Convenor (one of the 5 elected regional Council Officers), I stepped in to Chair. Our keynote speaker was Shadow Foreign Secretary, David Lammy MP, who gave a passionate Parliamentary report on the utter shambles that was the Truss Premiership (this was just before her very welcome resignation). 

Next speaker was NHS nurse, James Anthony, Vice Chair UNISON Campaigns Committee (formerly the General Political Fund/GPF) on the new "campaign fund", the programme of work to raise the profile of the fund, in particular increasing opt-in and using the fund more strategically and efficiently.

Final speaker was our Regional Secretary, Jo Galloway, on the new "branch organising and support fund" which is also a really important financial tool to support branches in campaigning. 

As a member of a regional wide branch that has multi employers with a fragmented membership this fund is exactly what we and many other similar branches need. It will also benefit all other branches that have good ideas and strategies to grow our membership. 

Since the meeting was as expected inquorate (due to NHS/health branches concentrating on the pay ballot) we had a useful and wide ranging Q&A on the new fund. I closed the meeting afterwards. 

I felt it was a useful meeting but I look forward to the next physical meeting of Regional Council (but in this current climate there may well be further massive disputes - so watch this space)

Saturday, October 22, 2022

Labour Housing Group Policy Day - "Fighting for the Housing Standards we Need & Deserve"

Today I travelled to Birmingham to attend a policy day organised by the Labour Housing Group. There was a number of excellent speakers including Shadow Secretary of State, Lisa Nandy MP. She pledged that a future Labour Government will introduce a Private Renters Charter & decent homes standards in it’s first 100 days. It will also abolish S21 evictions & the feudal leasehold tenure. 

Sharon Thompson, Birmingham’s Cabinet Member for Housing & Homelessness spoke on how the city is tacking standards in the private rented sector & extending licensing. Dr Jill Stewart, Senior Lecturer in Housing & Environmental Health, Middlesex University described the dreadful stats and limited law regarding housing standards.

Salma Hamid from the Birmingham Fair Housing Campaign gave a passionate speech on their campaigning & research on really poor standards in the private & public housing sectors for decent standards & their fight on behalf of tenants for decent rights.

Before lunch there was workshops on housing standards in Social Housing, PRS (Private rental sector) and Owner occupation. I moderated the workshop on Social Housing.

After lunch there was a talk by Cllr Kerrie Carmichael Leader Sandwell Council & Housing lead Cllr Charn Singh Padda on the difference a Labour council is making on housing standards, tackling homelessness, new homes & retrofitting despite challenges on funding.

Next was Martin Wicks, from Labour Campaign for Council Housing. Who made it clear what Council tenants such as himself expect Labour Councils and future Labour Governments to deliver upon housing standards. He is still waiting for a modern bathroom after many decades.

There was then a brief summary from the moderators of the workshops. I gave a summary of the lively and thoughtful one on Social Housing.

Final item was the launch of the West Midlands branch of the Labour Housing Group whose inaugural meeting takes place next month.

This was an excellent day. Many thanks to our speakers but also to our LHG Chair, Cllr John Cotton, and all the executive members of the LHG who have spend so much time and energy organising such events.

(Hat tip to Ross Houston for stealing some of his photos and comments from the @labourhousing twitter account)

Thursday, October 20, 2022

Liz Truss, lettuce and a lectern: 25 hours of chaos in three minutes

Love it but ashamed of our political system for allowing this to happen. Bring on slightly boring but competent Keir. We need grown ups in charge. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Newham Affiliated Trade Union Focused Feedback on #LABCON22

I am looking forward to this trade union Labour Party focused debate on 29 October (in personal capacity only). It was an amazing conference and while we should not be at all complacent, the Tories were (and still are) seemingly trying to do everything possible (despite the maths) to bring about a future Labour Government. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Labour Housing Group Policy Day, 22.10.22: Fighting for the housing standards we need and deserve


(Looking forward to being a speaker at the Labour Housing Group Policy day this Saturday in Birmingham). 

"Join us in Birmingham or online to discuss tackling poor housing standards across all tenures. 

Winter is coming and millions of people are living in housing that is not suitable. From mould, to poor insulation and soundproofing, the quality of our homes has a major effect on our health and wellbeing.

While many people will go cold this winter, too many landlords, builders and developers are cashing in on a weak regulatory and enforcement regime up and down the country. Even newly built homes are beset with faults, with owners and renters struggling to get redress.

The good news is it doesn’t have to be this way. Join the Labour Housing Group, experts, campaigners and policy makers in Birmingham (or online!) to discuss how to create the homes we all need and deserve.

There will be workshops looking at maintenance and standards in all tenures: private rented, public rented, and owner-occupied homes.

Speakers include:

  • Lisa Nandy MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Communities and Housing
  • Councillor Sharon Thompson, Birmingham City Council lead for Housing and Homelessness
  • Vicky Spratt, journalist and and housing rights campaigner
  • Tilly Smith, Generation Rent
  • Jacky Peacock, Advice4Renters
  • Councillor Kerrie Carmichael, Leader of Sandwell Council
  • Dr Jill Stewart, Senior Lecturer in Housing & Environmental Health, Middlesex University
  • Martin Wicks, Labour Campaign for Council Housing
  • Cllr John Gray, UNISON activist / Housing worker

The event is open to Labour Party members and supporters.

A lunch will be available for a small contribution of £6.

Join us in Birmingham, 22nd October, 11-3pm

The Warehouse – Birmingham Friends of the Earth environmental community hub 54-57 Allison Street Birmingham B5 5TH

Register here.

Join us on Zoom:

Meeting ID: 845 0691 6842

Passcode: 418805

Sunday, October 16, 2022

"We need grown ups in charge of the country. We need a general election"


"Not only did Truss trash the economy, she trashed the Tories’ own economic record of the last 12 years. But this isn’t about the Conservative party, this is about the country. We need grown ups in charge of the country. We need a general election".

Well said UNISON General Secretary Christina McAnea.

Friday, October 14, 2022

"Thank you to: UNISON - Johnson Situ for Camberwell & Peckham

"As a member and vice-chair of my workplace branch, I'm proud to have the backing of the UK’s largest union,

@unisontheunion, for C&P. From a national care service to fair pay for public service workers, as MP, I will continue to stand with Unison members for workers' rights".

Thursday, October 13, 2022

Labour Party Conference 2022: Day 3 Tuesday


I have just realised that I still have 2 more days to post on this year's Labour Conference. So Tuesday started off with another short run along the Mersey and back from my hotel. Weather was kind compared to Monday. The UNISON delegation started with a "huddle" on the day's business just before the start of conference. 

NHS Mental health Nurse and UNISON delegate, Gordon McKay gave a marvellous and passionate speech on the Health debate. 

As posted here I spoke on the Climate change/environment debate on behalf of UNISON but by coincidence, Newham Labour member Ken Penton moved the motion  while his colleague Luke Chartist (also a PPC) spoke. At the same time James Asser was on the NEC panel. 

There was many good conference debates and Keir's speech went down so, so well. We are starting to believe we can win at the next General Election and he will be our Prime Minister. The Tories, of course, were helping by doing every single thing possible to make our conference successful with their ridiculous unfunded tax cuts which sent the pound plummeting and raised interest rates.

After conference finished I went to the UNISON reception, were our deputy leader, Angela Rayner (UNISON's own of course) came to see us and gave a great speech followed by Keir who also spoke very well and stayed chatting to delegates and enjoying the event far longer than his aides had wanted.

Only one more (half) day to go. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2022

Employment Injury Insurance for Garment Workers in Bangladesh - Social Protection in Action


Next week I am moderating this virtual webinar for investors on "Social protection for garment workers". If you are involved in pensions please ask your trustees/pension committee/board members, fund managers and financial advisors to attend.

"Employment injury insurance for garment workers in Bangladesh:

Social protection in action

 Join us for an investor webinar on 18 October at 3pm UK / 10am ET

Registration here

IndustriALL Global Union and the Local Authority Pension Fund Forum will co-host a one-hour discussion of the recently launched Employment Injury Scheme (EIS) for ready-made garment workers in Bangladesh. In addition to presenting the pilot itself, the webinar will explore why garment and textile brands are participating, their role in funding it and the need for their continued involvement in the development of sustainable employment injury insurance.

Speakers include Primark and H&M, which are participating in the EIS pilot; the ILO, which supported the pilot’s design; and IndustriALL, which represents workers on the pilot’s tripartite committee. The webinar is aimed primarily at institutional investors interested in working towards a more sustainable garment industry built on respect for workers’ fundamental rights.

This event is part of a larger initiative spearheaded by IndustriALL on social protection for garment workers. Social protection, which can cover needs such as unemployment support, disability benefits and maternity protection, is an internationally recognized human right. During the Covid-19 pandemic, non-payment of wages due to brands’ cancellation of orders led to deepening poverty for millions of global supply chain workers because of the fundamental lack of social protection in producing countries. In several cases, this triggered large-scale protests and brought operational, legal and financial risks for sourcing brands. 

Employment injury insurance is one of the most basic forms of social protection. The Bangladesh pilot, which involves the government, workers, employers and the ILO, is an example of what is possible in the realm of social protection and of how brands are already participating in the effort. The webinar follows on our earlier event in June (recording here), in which workers from Thailand provided testimony about the impact of wage theft on their lives. This next webinar will bring in brands’ views on the importance of social protection and what their role can be.

Please join us on 18 October. Register here


Anne Marie La Rosa, Senior Policy, Legal & Labour Rights Specialist, ILO

Christina Hajagos-Claussen, Director Textile & Garment Industry, IndustriALL Global Union

Leyla Ertur, Head of H&M Group Sustainability, H&M Group

Katharine Stewart, Group Corporate Responsibility Director, Primark

Liz Umlas, Senior Advisor, IndustriALL Global Union

Cllr John Gray, Vice Chair, LAPFF (moderator)

Monday, October 10, 2022

"I'm Proud To Be Backed by: UNISON - Mete Coban For Kensington"

There was a number of excellent candidates who applied for the UNISON Labour Link nomination and Mete was successful following an application form and interview process. He is a superb candidate and I wish him all the luck in the forthcoming contest to be selected as the Labour PPC for Kensington in the next General Election. 

Sunday, October 09, 2022

"Our children are at risk – it’s time to get tough on county lines grooming"


"The collective failure of society and government to protect children from criminal exploitation is contributing to a terrible toll of murdered youngsters, traumatised families and ruined lives...

....The government’s failure to tackle the cost of living crisis has heightened the dangers children face from grooming and exploitation by criminal gangs.

Abusers seeking to lure children into running drugs thrive on the deprivation that so badly scars our society. So much of this vile criminal activity is linked to the supply of drugs along county lines, to suburban areas, as well as to market and coastal towns.

Here in London, we have lost so many children to grooming and exploitation and gang violence in pursuit of profit. Throughout 2021, 30 teenagers are reported to have been killed in London alone, and this is just the tip of the iceberg. Then there’s the abject devastation and misery for families of children caught up in the criminal justice system after being groomed and violated, with life chances lost and years wasted in prison.

Youth violence is on the rise, with the Metropolitan Police warning that England could see its highest number of deaths by knife crime in over a decade. The London borough of Newham, made up of our respective constituencies of West Ham and East Ham, has faced a terrible toll of murdered children and grieving families.

As Newham MPs, we have repeatedly raised cases of children whose lives have been ruined because of exploitation by gangs. It’s abundantly clear the current approach is failing vulnerable children across the country and devastating our communities. The under-funding of youth services over the last 12 years, along with the closure of hundreds of youth centres that provided safe spaces for children, has weakened communities’ ability to protect young people from harm.

Meanwhile, the cost of living crisis is increasing the risk to children from criminal exploitation. Experiences of child poverty increase the attraction of the “alternative economic model” that groomers offer.

An extraordinary rise in food bank use, a dire lack of adequate and affordable housing, poverty and racism, all increase children’s vulnerability to grooming. On a daily basis, many children today see their parents working several jobs and still struggling to pay rent and buy the basics. They can see that there is no money, and they are highly motivated to make this easier on their family in any way they can.

That’s why there must be no soft-touch approach when it comes to protecting children and young people from gang grooming. Existing policies are failing these children, who are not being identified or properly supported early enough.

As MPs for communities blighted by grooming, we are seeking support for a blueprint to overhaul the way public services protect child victims of criminal exploitation. At a recent conference, titled “Solving youth violence”, we sought to bring together those working in children’s services, as well as the police, charities and academics.

From our findings, we have produced a prospectus to improve protection for children from grooming, which we hope will open a debate. We will now present these findings in the Commons, with thanks to the chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee, Diana Johnson MP.

We believe there must be an early warning system, covering all social media firms, from Twitter to Facebook, with the introduction of a legal duty on firms to report any suspicious activity linked to possible grooming to the police the moment they become aware of it.

It’s not too much to ask that children and young people receive the same level of legal protection as the financial sector, where banks have similar duties to report suspicions about money laundering.

We want to discuss so-called “burner phones”, temporary phones that are discarded soon after use, which have been routinely used in reported cases of grooming and child criminal exploitation by gangs. These unregistered phones are a core tool used for county lines groomers and exploiters to obstruct detection and investigation of their crimes and to escape justice. People buying a mobile phone should be required to provide their name, address and contact details before they can start using it.

Meanwhile, immense pressure on public services, schools and local authorities to fulfil their duties while under-resourced, weakens protection for vulnerable children. This means that cases of exploitation are often missed and that even when the right referrals are made early, the specialist support required cannot be provided by partner agencies in a timely or consistent manner.

These are just a few of the changes needed. The collective failure of society and government to protect children from criminal exploitation is contributing to a terrible toll of murdered youngsters, traumatised families and communities, and ruined lives. However, the new prime minister and her government now have the opportunity for a fresh start. Liz Truss could introduce these new protections for our children in a matter of weeks.

There can be no excuse for failing to act to protect our children.

Lyn Brown is the Labour MP for West Ham and Stephen Timms is the Labour MP for East Ham

Hat tip 

Saturday, October 08, 2022

Labour standards in the rubber glove industry

Last week I chaired a virtual webinar organised by PIRC and UNISON on Labour standards in the rubber glove manufacturing industry. There were 6 panel members located in Europe and Asia and an invited audience of  some 50 industry representatives, investors, trade unionists and NGOs. 

There was some dreadful horror stories of human rights abuses in many factories that produce gloves for the NHS (and which Local Government Pension Funds may also have investments in).  Hopefully there will be a follow on event soon. 

This was my introductory blurb. "Hello everyone and welcome to today’s webinar on labour standards in the rubber gloves industry co-organised by PIRC and UNISON.

Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, and the greatly increased demand for personal protective equipment, there has been an increasing focus on the medical rubber glove supply chain. Forced labour, poor conditions and other labour rights concerns have received considerable media exposure.

For investors there has been a bit of a rollercoaster ride. The share prices of manufacturers initially surged on increased demand, but public policy responses brought valuations back to earth. In particular the use of Withholding Release Orders by US Customs and Border Protection to address the use of forced labour had a major impact. In the future public procurement decisions by national and regional public sector buyers may become increasingly important. While the S in ESG is often the poor relation, and is given less scrutiny by many investors, in this case risks relating to poor labour practices has become financially material.

It’s also difficult terrain for investors to navigate, due to differing accounts of the situation on the ground. Companies have tried to improve. On some key issues – such as the use of recruitment fees – a substantial amount of money has been spent seeking to provide redress. Yet workers, activists and unions continue to raise significant concerns.   

In this webinar we will hear from a range of experts and organisations involved in improving standards in the rubber glove industry. In the first half we’ll be hearing about ongoing concerns relating to labour practices in the sector.

Anton Marcus –Trade Zones & General Services Employees Union

Andy Hall – migrant workers' rights advocate

Tom Grinter – IndustriALL

Then we’ll take some questions. You can put these either in the chat or use the Q&A function.

In the second half of the webinar we’ll focus on some of the policy responses, including public procurement, and the business-led initiative the Responsible Glove Alliance.

Pauline Gothberg, Swedish County Councils and Regions

Nusrat Uddin, Wilson's solicitors

Anna Pienaar, Executive Director, Responsible Labor Initiative & Responsible Glove Alliance

Then we will have the opportunity for further questions.

To start us off, Tom Powdrill from PIRC is going to give a very brief introduction to its work on this topic...

(I am moderating another Labour Standards investor event on 18 October "LAPFF & IndustriALL Webinar: Employment injury insurance for garment workers in Bangladesh. Registration here)

Friday, October 07, 2022

Not Covid but Great British Common Cold (aka Lurgi)

I felt I had been fighting off some illness for the last few days but woke up in the middle of the night this morning with a sore throat and blocked sinuses. I thought I may have Covid and "here we go again". I had a very unpleasant Covid infection during Christmas last year and had no wish to have another bout. 

But I felt a little better in the morning and tested negative for Covid in a lateral flow test (the first such test for ages).  I am fully jabbed (4 injections and the 2022 flu jab). 

It felt so strange to carry out this test again which I used to have so often.

So wait and see but it seems that I have the "Great British Common Cold". The first I think since before the start of the Covid pandemic. Which is interesting since I normally would have one or two per year but the Covid social distancing and hygiene measures seem to have protected me from Colds (lurgi) 

"Day Nurse" tablets have worked so far and I will hit the "Night Nurse" later this evening but really pleased that I haven't got another bout of Covid (so far... fingers crossed). 

Thursday, October 06, 2022

Newham Voices: October 2022 - Remembering Her Majesty The Queen Elizabeth 11

 Check out and subscribe to the latest edition of Newham's Independent Community paper. Page  1 & 7.

"School turns to street art to mourn the Queen

The death of the Queen which led to a wave of sadness among many in Newham, particularly children, prompted Julie Carver, a teacher at Gainsborough School West Ham to organise a special artistic legacy for the monarch. 

The day after the Queen died she contacted street artists MurWalls and asked for their help. The result was this mural of the Queen donated to the school by UK based Canadian artist Chris Levine is best known for his “Lightness of Being” a feted portrait of Queen Elizabeth II (1926-2022) with her eyes closed. 

The school’s mural is a picture of the Queen with her eyes open and in Mr Levine’s distinctive style. 

Children laid flowers at the mural and people were able to write messages of condolence in a book on a table draped in the Union Jack. MurWalls Ltd, Street Art since 2019,"

Exercise log since 2018 (and Roman Road Keto Brunch)

After a run yesterday I checked my watch app (currently called Zepp Life) and I found I had been for 1700 miles of walks and ran 1100 miles since 26/5/18 (also 1546 miles of Cycling). Celebrated with Keto brunch in Fiesta Café, Roman Road.

Wednesday, October 05, 2022

Energy Support Fund | There for You (UNISON Welfare) | UNISON National

UNISON Welfare will be launching the first phase of our Energy Support Fund at 11am on 5 October. Applications will be submitted online.

(Please spread the word. This fund is limited and we must make sure that all branches and regions get a fair share)

The Energy Support Fund will be a one-off payment of £200 to help members with the rising cost of fuel.

Members who wish to apply must meet the grant’s eligibility criteria. In this phase, we will be accepting the first 2000 applications.

To be eligible for the fund you must meet all of the following criteria:

  • Must have 4 weeks of up-to-date membership as of 5 October. 
  • Must not have received a main grant since March 2022.
  • Must not have more than £1,000 in savings or rolling bank balance. 
  • Must not have received more than £750 worth of grants if applying within first year of membership.
  • Net household income of no more than £30k/year (£2,500/month).
  • Monthly housing costs (made up of mortgage/rent plus any service charge & ground rent) make up at least 1/3 of net household income.
  • Not in receipt of any means-tested benefits (excluding Child Benefit).

Members who do not meet the above criteria may be eligible to apply to future phases of the fund (if they meet the criteria). The second phase will launch in November.

Any queries regarding the Energy Support Fund should be emailed to

Tuesday, October 04, 2022

Pink Floyd - Hey Hey Rise Up (feat. Andriy Khlyvnyuk of Boombox)

Labour Conference: Day 3 A Green & Digital Future debate - My speech "No jobs in a dead planet"


This is photo from Tuesday morning (Day 3 of Labour Party Conference) of me giving a speech to Labour Conference as a UNISON Labour Link delegate. It was during the debate on Climate change. It was titled the "decarbonisation of public services".  A bit of a mouthful but hopefully I got my point across. Many thanks to UNISON staff for speaker notes. Hat tip Julian Cooke for photo.

Check out here on Labour Party YouTube and go to 1 hour 39 minutes & 25 seconds


Conference, John Gray speaking for UNISON, the UK’s largest trade union. Conference let’s be clear we don’t need any persuading that climate change is real, is dangerous and is destructive.

We know that there are no jobs on a dead planet. And if the transition to net zero is not just, it is working people and their families who will suffer the worst consequences.

And Conference, the breadth of our public services means that UNISON members see the effects of climate change at work. Whether working for the Environment Agency and local government at the time of flooding, or NHS staff seeing the rise in air pollution and asthma.

And we all know the impacts of pollution and climate change fall more heavily on the disadvantaged.

Conference, last year, UNISON supported the UK and global trade union movement at the United Nations COP26 Conference. The global trade union movement had four clear demands:

1) Raise climate ambitions with Just Transition policies;

2) Respect and promote human and labour rights;

3) Provide climate finance for the Global South;

4) Funded plans that would achieve net zero.

Conference, trade unions must play a central role so that workers voices are at the table. That way we will deliver the policies and measures that ensure the transition is fair. This is a once in a generation challenge that we have to rise to. And as part of this endeavour We know that decarbonising public services is key.

Public Services, even excluding transport, represents around 8% of UK’s direct greenhouse gas emissions And that’s before you factor in procurement, construction and social housing impacts which make it much higher. 

Conference, Decarbonisation in Public Services needs new money now! Local Government alone needs major investment to cover works including building retrofits, pedestrian and cycling infrastructure 
and enhanced waste collection and processing services.

I could give similar examples across the rest of the public sector but the Chair would agree that there isn’t enough time in this speech!

Conference, In the absence of a significant capital injection of funds, public services will only move slowly towards its decarbonisation targets, taking resources from already stretched budgets, with disastrous consequences.

So, Liz Truss, Your government needs to start the funding NOW! But also, I say to our Labour leadership Public Services must have a separate, significant additional climate and decarbonisation budget .And there must dialogue with trade unions on this issue NOW.

Conference, if we get this right with such ambitious plans Labour will win the next election. Thank You.