Sunday, December 25, 2022
Thursday, December 22, 2022
Wednesday, December 21, 2022
It was an honour to attend this LAS picket line in West Ham on behalf of Greater London UNISON Regional Council officer. This is a live operational picket line (pickets may be called to go out on a "life or limb" call at any time so must ensure no delay or anyone joining the picket possibly injured) so please use social media to show solidarity. #PutNHSpayright. The strike continues until midnight.
Sunday, December 18, 2022
I missed the beginning (and other speakers including the Newham Mayor, Rokhsana Fiaz) but was impressed that around 50 people, had over the course of the meeting, turned up the weekend before Christmas to talk about how to promote this important independent community voice.
"Newham Voices" needs more sponsors, advertisers, subscribers and most important, more volunteers prepared to give up a little bit of time to support the project. There is fantastic support and training offered to volunteers.
Check out for free the latest monthly edition here and how to subscribe, advertise and volunteer.
Saturday, December 17, 2022
Friday, December 16, 2022
Rodina restaurant in Stratford High Street on Tuesday evening. I was with former Newham Councillor (and Chair of Local Authority Pension Fund Forum) John Saunders and my West Ham Ward Councillor colleague, John Whitworth.
It was an excellent meal, good service and appears very authentic. I had keto version of Bulgarian mixed grill (Bez Kartofi) with a green side salad instead of chips. John S had Beef tongue in butter and grilled vegetables. While John W had Chicken Gondola.
John S and I especially enjoyed the "homemade Rakia" at the end of the meal while John W gave in to his sweet tooth with pancakes, chocolate and cream.
It was nice to meet up with old comrades and enjoy a different meal (while putting the world to rights).
Wednesday, December 14, 2022
"Military housing: Families say they're living in damp, mouldy conditions" Will Gove tell Wallace to Resign?
BBC report and pictures on the dreadful conditions that so many of our military families live in.
While I am broadly supportive of the often justifiable criticisms that Secretary State, Michael Gove has made of social housing providers, who fail to deal with damp, will he now tell Secretary of State for Defence Ben Wallace to resign, after this appalling report?
Tuesday, December 13, 2022
UNISON NHS strike next week (Wednesday 21 December) against massive real term pay cuts for our health workers.
Monday, December 12, 2022
"Newham Voices needs your support. Come and join us 10 am Saturday, December 17th, at Stratford Library"
"Newham Voices needs your support. Come and join us 10 am Saturday, December 17th, at Stratford Library
For more than two years Newham Voices has been successfully providing community news and information for the people of Newham, but now we need your help!
Now your community newspaper is working on plans to continue printed publication into 2023 and we have organised an urgent meeting for friends and supporters on Saturday December 17th at Stratford Library at 10am.
We will celebrate our achievements and present awards to those who have completed our community journalism training course. We will also discuss what we need to do to continue our good work.
We need your help to continue our work giving voice to residents and supporting Newham's vibrant community and voluntary sector. The Mayor has said she will try to join the meeting.
Newham is Britain’s most diverse and dynamic Borough, built on solidarity, compassion and creativity. It is a model for the future of London and needs an independent and democratic voice to speak up for people in the Borough
Join us on Saturday (refreshments will be provided) and help us shape a sustainable future for your community voice!
See you there!
Sunday, December 11, 2022
LAPFF is the leading voice for Local Authority Pension Funds in the UK and its members assets exceed £350 Billion.
There were Councillors, Council officers, trade union reps, fund managers, advisors and guest speakers from all over the UK and even the world. Some joined virtually while most were present in person.
On day one, the Chair of LAPFF, Cllr McMurdo, formally opened conference and the first presentation was by a representative of French energy giant Total on its recent (welcome) withdrawal from Myanmar.
The conference is held under what is called "Chatham House" rules which means that you should not repeat what is said without the permission of the speaker. I have reached out to the speaker since I am genuinely interested on the reasons why Total did not decide to pull out in the past (also see picture in collage) during previous horrible military dictatorships and repression. It would be good to understand why now and what actually changed their mind?
Next was a powerful presentation on the recent visit to Brazil by LAPFF to the local communities who had suffered grave loss of life and devastation following the apparently negligent collapse of the so called Tailings Dams.
There was a virtual video with a community leader from Brazil (name withheld due to fears for their safety) and from a concerned Brazilian investor. The Chair of Vale (the 5th largest Mining Company in the world) actually came in person to conference and also spoke to us.
It is more than a pity that some large mining companies have failed to engage with LAPFF on this very important matter.
Friday, December 09, 2022
Most of us had the traditional polish set meal for 2 which was very good value, tasty and filling (definitely not keto). Despite one of the tables collapsing during the meal, it was an very enjoyable experience and many thanks to our branch secretary Chris (sitting next to me) and our Chair Joseph (sitting next to Chris) and the wider executive for all their hard work during the past 12 months.
Tuesday, December 06, 2022
Off message but on Sunday Gill and I went for a 5 mile circular walk around Nazeing Common in Essex. Only 30 minutes drive from East London (not great for public transport), we have done several versions of this walk but this one was taken from the Ordnance Survey (OS) app supplied by Country Walking magazine (no route instructions, map only).
It was quite a dull and cold day but it was great to get out of London, stretch your legs and fill your lungs with fresh country air. An easy walk with a little bit of up and down to get your pulse working. Highlights of walk was coming across a herd of deer in a wood, who ran off but remained within sight while we had hot drinks and snacks.
Near the marvellously named "Bumbles Green", we were amazed at spotting tractors hauling trailers full of parents and and small kids to go and pick, then get chopped down, Christmas Trees. On the trailers, they all had to sit on bales of hay, which looked most unsafe but must have been great fun for the kids.
As normal, we saw very few other people apart from the Crimbo tree brigade and the occasional dog walker. Walking through Nazeing golf club was a little dodgy since the path was not clear but the golfers were patient with us.
Didn't go for beer at end of walk since we had get to supermarket to pick up a decent Sunday Roast (Forerib) before it closed.
Check out other pictures of walk (not that exciting since overcast) on Facebook here
Monday, December 05, 2022
Sunday, December 04, 2022
For various repair, covid, safety and staffing issues we have been displaced to Stratford Library. But very soon we hope to be able to offer a local Councillor surgery service every Saturday 10-11am in Vicarage Lane (apart from Bank holiday weekends)
The photo collage was from the Archives room and during quiet moments during the last few years I have spent some time looking at the fascinating books and historical resources on display. While I knew of our collection of paintings by Madge Gill I never knew that Newham Council had a prized collection of luxury locally produced porcelain
Saturday, December 03, 2022
IOSH website about the 11% rise in work related stress reported by the Health & Safety Executive in their annual report. Very worrying for employers and unions. The HSE believe that nearly half of these workers believe this is linked to the Covid pandemic, while 123,000 believe that their occupational ill health was caused by catching Covid at work (which I believe happened to me last year but luckily I haven't suffered any long term effects).
I also remember many reports during the pandemic on the massive underreporting by many employers of workers killed by exposure to Covid while at work.
The cost of ill health and injuries at work is estimated to cost the UK a staggering £18.3 billion (pre pandemic). I continue also to shocked by the 13,000 workers who died from work related diseases (nevermind the 123 workers killed in accidents - this figure does not include all those who died at work in traffic accidents).
That means around 36 workers die every day from work related ill health. If terrorists killed 36 people in a single day, we would quite rightly be outraged and "demand something be done".
I will be bringing up this finding on work related stress with my employer as a trade union appointed safety rep and also will see if I can find out more about what is happening to Newham workers as a Councillor on our health scrutiny committee.
Thursday, December 01, 2022
I was really pleased to be re-elected (unopposed) this evening as the UNISON National Convenor at our AGM which was held in person at our London Bridge HQ and virtually on msn teams. Our most active steward, Joseph Ogundemuren, was also elected to the new position of Deputy Convenor and elections of UNISON reps to Staff Council were affirmed.
Many thanks to National Secretary for UNISON Community Service Group (Housing Associations and Charities), Gavin Edwards, for being our guest speaker and letting us know about "the state we're in" regarding Housing Associations and most importantly, his advice on the forthcoming pay negotiations, amidst the cost of living crisis. There was a lively debate during the Q&A.
We will be holding consultation meetings for all staff on the pay rise claim in Clarion and regular surgeries.
While attendance at the AGM was not great considering the size of our membership, we had members from Manchester, Birmingham, Greater London, Norfolk and Kent participating.
There was lots and lots of fantastic ideas and suggestions about building the union and making it even more relevant to members. So watch this space. In our sector we definitely live in interesting times...