Wednesday, March 29, 2017
Tuesday, March 28, 2017
Monday, March 27, 2017
For those who think they don't need trade unions to fight for justice at work, I say think again.
Making an application for an employment tribunal now costs £250 and then a further £950 for a hearing. As this research shows, low paid workers with strong cases are being blocked.
"A new report to be published in academic journal Modern Law Review on Monday (27 March 2017) will put forth that the introduction of employment tribunal fees in 2013 was "a clear violation" of UK and EU law.
The authors, Jeremias Prassl from Oxford University law school, and Abi Adams, of its school of economics, analysed government data in order to show that for up to half of claimants with a strong case, the expense of taking their claim to court was higher than the expected payout if they were successful.
These workers - usually in low-paid, insecure positions - are therefore put in the position of losing money to enforce their rights. As a result, the academics described the fees as "disproportionate" and argued that they are illegally blocking workers from access to justice.
The paper will be published on the day that Unison's judicial review against the fees will be heard in the Supreme Court, and the authors commented in support of the union's case".
Hat tip Institute of Employment Rights
Sunday, March 26, 2017
Some of them have lived in their flats since 1997 and will have to leave their homes and their jobs if the rents are increased by this amount. This is not only a personal disaster to these tenants but will also mean Newham residents will lose key public service professionals.
The way One Housing Group has handled this is simply appalling. There has been no proper consultation and tenants have been given contradictory and misleading reasons and documentation. I have asked as a Councillor for the rent rises to be put on hold until at least One Housing Group agrees to meet its tenants collectively and explain why they feel they have to do this.
The key workers, as you would expect, are reasonable and pragmatic people but they are up for a fight if One Housing decides to provoke one.
Saturday, March 25, 2017
Many people now have jobs that give them little or no security. This may because you rely on an agency to provide you with work – and there’s no guarantee that they can find you work.
You may have a job where you have no guarantee of how many hours’ work you will have from one week to the next or maybe on a zero hours contract.
Or your employer might tell you you’re self-employed, but still want to control the hours you work and the jobs you take – without providing you with the minimum wage or sick pay.
We want to hear from people who have jobs like these. Please tell us about your experiences at work. It can be completely anonymous if you prefer. This will help us campaign for decent jobs for everyone.
Please complete survey by 29 March 2017.
Friday, March 24, 2017
We also gave out leaflets on the Labour party campaigns about "Education not Segregation" and "Our NHS is underfunded".
I had an interesting conversation with some students from India whose home state Kerala, (and also in West Bengal state), is controlled by the Marxist Communist Party of India. They were not supporters but recognised that in their state they have the highest levels of literacy, women to men ratios and life expectancy in India.
While door knocking we had a discussion with long serving members on how in the 1970s the Freemasons in Newham Council (Councillors and Council officers - used to have a lodge in East Ham Town Hall) were kicked out of the local party and the Council for alleged corrupt practices.
After the canvass Cllr John Whitworth, Cllr Anam Islam and I went to see the excellent "Far from the Western Front" First World War Exhibition in the Minhaj-Ul-Quran mosque in Romford Road which is due to finish tomorrow.
Thursday, March 23, 2017
This should be an interesting introduction for local Party activists but I am worried that ordinary members may attend in the expectation that they will have at least a chance to be selected as a Labour candidate. I am concerned that there is simply not enough time for non active members to prove their campaigning commitment. Since selections are probably starting soon and candidates who cannot show a history of campaigning should not really be long listed.
This meeting should have been organised months ago to give people the chance to prove themselves. This is not the fault of our organiser but I assume it's down to our our Local Campaign Forum Executive.
Wednesday, March 22, 2017
I was supposed to have gone to the House of Commons this morning for a pension briefing but had to cancel due to a last minute clash. I also had a long telephone conversation at lunchtime with an MP who was driving into Parliament to vote. Many of my friends and colleagues were at work today inside or visiting Parliament.
While we don't know the full facts on what happened this afternoon it seems that some brainwashed moron had decided to deliberately murder innocent tourists and unarmed public servants.
Why this cretin thought that such cowardly murders would advance any cause is beyond belief.
To me there is no difference between the fascist who murdered Jo Cox MP or the one who tried to kill MPs today.
I think our first response to such vile acts is to state that while we are proud and passionate about our religious or secular beliefs, we are also all Londoners.We are democratic, tolerant and proud of our diversity and the rule of law.
I love the Facebook friend who lives in Newcastle who said today's outrage also "felt like her own family had been attacked".
The best response is that such an attack on London is actually an attack on all of us - and we should all respond accordingly by not only condemning but doing something practical and real against all such hate and bigotry.
(hat tip photo Dave Hill).
Tuesday, March 21, 2017
Today is the AGM of my branch (12-2pm and 6-8pm at the UNISON Centre, London) and this is my contribution to our annual report. Picture of 2016 Branch Executive.
"2016 was a traumatic year for politics generally and for social housing and trade unions in particular. Attacks by the Conservative government on trade unions were seen off in part by united and targeted campaigning and protests.
The attempt to end social housing by withdrawing all grants for social rent, the introduction of the tenants “pay to stay” tax and the attempt to make “right to buy” in our sector compulsory has also so far failed even though we can expect the Government will come back again for the kill.
The branch must be prepared to continue to lobby and campaign against the implementation of the Housing Act and the proposals outlined in the recent Housing White Paper to make cuts to benefit for care and supporting housing projects and schemes.
The housing association world has experienced rapid change following the rise of the “mega mergers”. Huge existing associations are merging with each over to form even bigger
groups. While some mergers have failed due to “cultural differences” others have gone ahead with more likely to follow. Staff (and residents) can expect challenges ahead and while not all change is bad it will be important that we build strong unionised workplaces to stand up for our members.
While I find it somewhat ironic that one of the justifications given at the time for stock transfers from councils to housing associations used to be that council housing departments were too large and remote. The new mega housing associations are, however, promising to build tens of thousands of much needed new homes.
Our members will be developing, letting, selling, allocating, managing and maintaining these new homes. Our jobs and our future terms and conditions is dependent on making new and old employers successful and effective. No organisation will be successful if they don’t have good relationships with staff and their union. Our UNISON branch wants to work in partnership with our employers whenever possible but we will take on the small minority of bad employers who don’t want to work with us.
Finally, may I thank all our stewards and workplace contacts for the magnificent and often unappreciated work you do for members. You are the first line of defence for members and are our unsung heroes.