Thursday, April 24, 2014

"I'm Bryan" One Housing lobby in support of victimised trade unionist

Yesterday, following a hearing being cancelled, I was able to go and support the lunchtime lobby outside One Housing Group headquarters in favour of the victimised Unite Convenor for One Housing, Bryan Kennedy.

See my previous post about Bryan and One Housing history of victimising trade union activists. They also have a really awful reputation for treating residents badly and for tearing up agreements.

I have not come across any Housing Association that is so disliked by some many residents groups, Councillors, MP's etc yet it pretends it does not give damn what anyone things about them.

See my previous post about the really, really rubbish governance arrangements of so many publically funded Housing associations.

At the Lobby was Labour Party London Assembly member and their Housing Spokesman, Tom Copley (who was also a speaker at our UNISON branch agm).

At the lobby it was announced that Bryan had been certificated as being sick and that it had been agreed to postpone his hearing.

I hope that even at this late stage that One Housing comes to their senses and deal with this issue properly.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Millionaire Nigel Farage SSH

Well, I cannot possibly comment on whether Millionaire Investment banker, Nigel Farage is a SSH or not.

But surely he is.... :)

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Are Pension Investment consultants worth it? - Rethinking Pensions 2014

Finally got around to posting on the fascinating presentation by Professor Tim Jenkinson (picture right) on the value of investment consultants at last months "Rethinking Pensions" conference. 

It was called "Picking winners? Investment consultants' recommendations of fund managers"

Tim and his fellow researchers Howard Jones and Jose Vicente Martinez believe that there is evidence that (FT) "pension funds are wasting billion of dollars every year on worthless advice from investment consultants". 

This has obviously not gone down all that well with the investment consultant community and it is joked that Tim and his fellow academic researchers should check beneath their cars every morning on the way into work (this is what I have heard being said and not from Tim or his colleagues). 

Tim argued that there had been little academic research beforehand in the effectiveness of investment consultants in the $25 trillion of assets they control or advise upon. His team had found that many asset managers and plan sponsors didn't think they did a good job and that there were many potential conflicts of interest.

It could be that investment consultants have an interest in complexity so to justify their fees. Tim argued that it was a complete mystery to academics why anyone recommends using active fund managers when "hundreds of papers" show passive (trackers) are better. 

Their research showed that investment consultants on fund managers in US equities only averaged 7.13% in return when non recommended fund managers averaged 8.13%.

The investment consultant community are up in arms about this research and are apparently threatening to refuse to engage in future academic research, which if true, I think is completely and utterly disgraceful.

I will ask all of my three different pension fund consultants for which I am a trustee, on what they think of this issue and will also be expecting them to welcome and facilitate such research into their professions performance.

We need to know the facts and everyone should be doing everything they can to get at the truth. 

Trade Union victimisation....One Housing Group and Déjà vu?

This Wednesday 23rd April 12.30-1.30pm there will be a protest outside the gross misconduct discipline hearing of suspended Unite convenor, Bryan Kennedy.

This will take place at the One Housing Group Head Office, 100 Chalk Farm Rd, NW1 8EH (next to the Camden Roundhouse).

I can't be there on Wednesday since I have to represent a trade union member out of London that day. I hope that Housing Association (and other) trade unionists will attend to support Bryan. 

Bryan is a top trade unionist and also a dedicated housing worker and anyone who has ever met him would be astonished that any employer is thinking of sacking him. To be clear, Bryan is an intelligent, pragmatic, softly spoken, reasonable and consensus seeking trade unionist who wants to protect and defend his members and is willing if necessary to take on his employer to do so. 

He is facing a hearing on Wednesday where he could lose his job which his employer is saying has nothing to do with his trade union activities such as when he led his members on 11 days of strike action last year. 

Hmmm. While I don't know all the details about the allegations against Bryan I think they are rubbish. You see, One Housing Group has form on these issues.

I remember speaking at a protest meeting in 2009 against the sacking by One Housing Group of its UNISON convener Debbie Cordroy. At this meeting we had local residents, Labour Jim Fitzpatrick MP, Tory Councillor Tim Archer, Former Labour Councillor (and Barrister) Martin Young, UNISON NEC member John McDermott and myself all speaking in favour of Debbie. 

I understand that exactly the same discipline panel that dismissed Debbie Cordrey will be hearing the case against Bryan on Wednesday. 

This just stinks. I have come across senior managers who boast that due to lack of regulation and accountability they can do practically anything they like and there is nothing anyone can do about it.

I am in the main a supporter of Housing Associations but genuinely think that due to the lack of probity and democratic governance in many parts of the sector, it is setting the seeds of its destruction. I am constantly surprised how vehemently disliked and mistrusted the sector is amongst a very wide spectrum of our society. 

It is seen by many as an undemocratic and unaccountable oligarchy enriching its senior management team and Board at the expense of residents and workers, feeding off decades of huge public capital grants and benefit subsidy by taxpayers. 

Politicians are also acutely aware of its massive assets base which they think could be better managed. 

We use to talk about the press in this country "drinking in the last chance saloon". I think the same applies to the housing association sector and unless it significantly changes it ways then I honestly don't think it has a long term future as independent self run organisations.

One Housing Group could signal that there could be a change by not acting in a nasty, vindictive, and corporatist manner on Wednesday.  This would be a start.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon) - Easter 2014

Picture (off message) from summit of Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon) last Monday. I went last week to North Wales to see my Mum and family (and also sneaked in a few walks).

The weather was again sunny and clear and I have even returned from North Wales with a bit of a tan. Most unusal for April (or dare I say North Wales?)

We went up and down the Rangers Path which I recommend for its stunning views (in good weather) but also it is the quietest by far of any of the routes up the mountain with no hoards of walkers that you will find on the more popular paths.

April 14 was also the 12th anniversary of the death of my father, a keen hill walker, whose ashes the family spread from the summit. I also remembered an old friend who also is no longer with us who did the 3 Peaks with me in 2004.

But it was not at all a sad day. It was a glorious day and one to remember and celebrate.

More pictures on Facebook here

Saturday, April 19, 2014

A CEO earns the UK average salary in just three days

Inequality Briefing have worked out that the average FTSE 100 Chief Executive earns the equivalent of the average UK salary in just 3 days.

"Explaining the data:
CEO pay of £4.25 million is take from the Manifest survey of CEO pay, while workers’ pay of £27,000 is taken from the Office of National Statistics Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings. To calculate hourly pay, we have (generously) assumed that CEOs take just 10 days annual leave and work an average 12 hours a day, 6 days a week".

Hat tip picture from twitter of US trade union @AFSCME

Friday, April 18, 2014

A tale of Bob in Barnet

A modern day Morality tale about the fate of wicked and evil Privateer Councillors (with a very catchy tune). Hat tip Barnet UNISON. 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Fascism in 1930's East London

Fascinating post by local history blog "E7 Now & Then" on Fascism in  Forest Gate, Newham, East London during the 1930s.

I have lived in Forest Gate since 1988 and I knew that Mosley and his fascists use to hold open air meetings at the old bandstand  near to where I now live in Wanstead Flats.

I didn't realise that I passed the former local British Union of Fascists district headquarters everyday on the way to and from the railway station.

The post is largely about Forest Gate but mentions fascist activities elsewhere in East London.

I think we should be proud that despite the mass unemployment and economic hardship of the 1930's that the fascists were never able to win any significant level of electoral support in London.

The Forest Gate fascists seemed to have been composed solely of racist middle class anti-semitics and working class jack boot uniform fetishists. I suspect they differed very little from our modern day racists and  fascists.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The truth about UKIP (they're even worse than the Tories)

Great post on "Unions Together" on the truth about UKIP. What many workers fail to understand is that UKIP is not just a protest vote against Europe led by some loud mouth millionaire maverick who doesn't like his Brussels sprouts!   UKIP is an ultra right wing Tory extremist Party, who would cut our pay, get rid of TUPE protections, maternity rights, sell off the NHS, cut taxes for the rich and get rid of paid holidays. 

I think the wider Labour Movement has to take some responsibility for our failure to make it clear to our members that many of the employment rights that people take for granted in this country are actually only there because of the European Union and if right wing fanatics such as UKIP had their way, workers in this country would be completely stuffed.

Our relationship with Europe does need reform and we need to have grown up conversations about immigration and our national identity but for most folk voting UKIP is simply cutting your nose to spite your face.

The last thing we all need is a political Party even more right wing and reactionary than even this current Tory led coalition Government.