Thursday, May 05, 2016

No ifs nor buts: Get the Vote out for Sadiq Khan as London Mayor (and for Labour everywhere)

It is 7AM and polling stations across the land have just opened.

This is going to be a really close vote in London. Ignore the polls. Every single vote will count. London is a Labour City but unless we turn out our supporters the Tories will win.

So today can all Labour supporters in London (and elsewhere) remember the key Get The Vote Out polling day message of "knock early, knock often".

Good luck!

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Eve of Poll 4 May 2016 - Getting the Labour Vote out

The day started with some family political scandal via LinkedIn, my lovely sister-in-laws' current husband, has just defected as a North Wales Councillor (and former Mayor) from Plaid Cymru to the Conservatives. No further comment.

Other than that a busy Labour movement day. Today I had UNISON meetings with members at Stratford, Islington and Bow (yesterday in Guildford, Dorking and Merton). This evening I was calling at previously identified Labour supporters in Forest Gate North ward, Newham with local Councillor, Rachel Tripp.

We started off by bumping into a very strong minded resident, who I knew well when we both worked for Tower Hamlets Council and Rachel knows as a Councillor, who assured us that our Labour Mayoral Candidate, Sadiq Khan, had his second preference vote (his first preference was not Tory).

It is actually good fun calling on identified Labour supporters during the eve of poll. You can be less formal and more relaxed but need to be careful, since sometimes previous canvassers have got the voter identification spectacularly wrong.

Most of the photos in the collage relate to recent canvass sessions in West Ham ward (where I am a Councillor) with our local MP, Lyn Brown.

Last night I spoke at the lobby in a House of Commons Committee room on behalf of UNISON against the Tory Housing and Planning Bill (post to follow). Afterwards I went to watch the debate on the bill from the public gallery. Sadiq Khan was there in the chamber to support Labour MPs who were attacking the Bill and supporting the House of Lords amendments to this obnoxious and disastrous bill.

Instead of campaigning for himself, he was in the House of Commons to support and vote against a bill that will steal homes from Councils, get rid of tenant rights and force low to middle income Londoners out of the capital.

Tomorrow is a chance for ordinary Londoners to make a stand and elect a Mayor who will represent all of London and not just posh old Etonian multi-millionaires. 

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

"Remember the dead but fight for the Living": Workers Memorial Day 2016

Please see attached photo and press release on behalf of UNISON Housing Associations Branch, Newham NUT, Newham United Against Austerity and West Ham Labour TULO.

Last Thursday 28 April Trade Unionists and Labour Party supporters gathered around the “Clasped Hands” statue in Three Mills Green, Stratford, E3.

UNISON NEC Member John Gray (and Newham Councillor) spoke to the gathering about the “50,000 workers who die each year in the UK from either accidents or work related ill health. That is 1,000 workers each and every week that die prematurely. The vast majority of these deaths were completely avoidable”.

Tony Power, who works for a local Housing Association in Stratford reminded them about the tragedy that occurred on this site in 1901 that the “clasped hands” monument remembers.  “A worker was repairing a ventilation shaft when he was overcome and collapsed due to fumes. Three of his fellow workers sacrificed their lives by trying to pull him out but they were overcome by fumes as well and sadly died”.  

Retired Newham teacher, Peg Probett, placed the wreath on the memorial.

Newham Councillor, Obaid Khan, thanked the Newham trade unions and NUAA for organising this important event.

Monday, May 02, 2016

"On the Knocker" for Sadiq in Forest Gate.

The collage is from recent campaign sessions in Forest Gate North (West Ham CLP).  The Labour vote for Sadiq Khan in the ward is pretty overwhelming. It is also amazing how many Party members there are nowadays. Every street it seems has 2 or 3 members.

I noticed what appears to be a Fire Insurance plaque on a building in Sebert Road, E7 (top middle). Not sure it is original since the London Fire Brigade was in operation by 1881.

The statue of the cat on the garden wall (top left) is great.

In a council owned block off off Forest Lane E7 there is a black and white picture (bottom middle) in the communal hallway of children playing cricket in the street. I wonder who put this there and why. 

"Stop the Housing Bill" Lobby tomorrow Tuesday 3rd May

I will be at the lobby tomorrow evening after 5pm (Tuesday 3rd May).

From UNISON press release "The Housing and Planning Bill is nearing its conclusion in Parliament, it returns to the Commons on 3 May, when it will be debated by MPs.

This is a crucial debate that could see the Bill voted into law.UNISON is concerned that the bill, if it is passed in its current form, will result in fewer social and affordable homes, housing jobs and services for citizens and the vulnerable. That is why we are supporting this lobby on Tuesday 3 May as part of the Stop the Housing Bill campaign.  

The lobby gives campaigners, housing workers and citizens the opportunity to meet with their Member of Parliament to tell them what is wrong with the Bill and how it will impact on local communities and the housing options of ordinary citizens.

Outside Parliament: Old Palace Yard SW1P 3JY from 12 - 2pm

Then from 3 – 7pm Meeting in Committee Room 12 in parliament with campaigners, Lords and MPs   

See also leaflet here: 

Sunday, May 01, 2016

The Emperor has no clothes. DC Pensions

From Professional Pensions "John Gray looks at whether current contribution levels across DB and DC are adequate.
As well as being an employee representative on a pension board I am also a UNISON trade union branch secretary with members in more than 140 different private and public service employers.
While I am pleased that auto-enrolment (AE) has taken off so far, I am astonished about how little money employers are paying into pension pots. While many do pay more than the statutory requirement, we see well known national organisations with supposedly good reputations paying peanuts into their employee pension schemes.
If you put in only the AE 8% then you will be retiring and die in relative poverty.
I remember my first ever TUC pension course and our tutor (by coincidence the father of present day PLSA CEO, Joanne Segars) telling us there was an unscientific rule of thumb that you need to put around 20% of your income into a pension for 40 years to retire on half pay and receive a lump sum. Since workers cannot afford to pay 20% into their pension the employer has to pay the greater share.
Whenever I repeat this story to trade union members and to employers they are genuinely horrified at both the amount and the length of time needed.
I know this 20% rule of thumb is full of holes but recently I went to the website of a well-known stakeholder provider and spent a little time on its pension calculator site. While there is no such thing as a perfect projection I was pretty shocked at what I found.
How much?
I used the example of a worker aged 28, who has no existing pension provision on £30,000 per year, who is planning to retire in 40 years' time at age 68. I worked out that not 20% but a ridiculous 50% (£1,250 per month) of their income would have to be invested in order to hopefully retire on half pay (with no lump sum).
If you include the projected state pension you will still have to pay in an eye-watering 34% of your income (£850 per month). So only paying 20% into your pension for 40 years will actually get you nowhere near half pay. If you put in only the AE 8% then you will be retiring and dying in relative poverty.
Okay, maybe under AE a 28-year-old will by that age have some existing pension provision. Current investment assumptions may prove to be wrong and be too pessimistic. Perhaps the industry will really drive down costs and charges (including hidden fees) and increase return. Annuity rates could improve?
Maybe, maybe not. Young people have student loans to pay off, sky high rents to cover while also trying to save for a mortgage. While retention rates for AE have been much higher than expected, this might change. Especially if people think it is not going to be worth it. Current investment assumptions could prove to be optimistic. The industry is very good at side-tracking attempts to cut its charges and annuity rates could remain the same for decades.
So let's keep the 34% of income figure. It's a good enough guess as any I think. Now, should the union be arguing with employers to be paying, say, 26% employer pension contributions and employees 6%? I can imagine the response. Let's face up to it – defined contribution schemes are just not going to deliver.
But why is it some of my union members still belong to a good-quality, national, career average defined benefit schemes, whose total cost for future actuarial is capped at 18.5%? With the employer contribution a maximum of 13%? Surely it's time to think again about modern defined benefit schemes?
John Gray is a London Borough of Tower Hamlets Pension board member though he is writing in a personal capacity

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Mary Locke for Bournvill Ward, May 5 2016

This picture collage is from last Saturday, when I went to Birmingham to support my UNISON NEC colleague, Mary Locke, who is standing to be a Labour Councillor in Bournville ward, Birmingham next Thursday 5 May.

Mary would make a fantastic Councillor. She is a top trade unionist, hard working, dedicated, sincere and honest. With Mary, what you see and hear is what you get.

Bournville is the home of the famous and iconic chocolate factory. There are currently 2 Tories and one Labour Councillor. The current Labour Councillor is stepping down due to ill health and Mary is hoping to be elected as his replacement.

UNISON NEC members James Anthony and Abiola Kusoro, also came to support her. Mary works for the NHS and half of the two teams out campaigning that day were either nurses, a GP or other NHS staff.

Check out my post on my last visit to support Mary. This time I had to get back to London and missed the post canvass meal.

Friday, April 29, 2016

"London Mayoral election - a week till polling day" - West Ham Campaign plan

"If you have any time over the next week you could ensure we get London a Labour Mayor. And if you can join us on 5 May please let us know. It's actually quite fun.... (honest...)

Shop at the Co-op?
If you've received a ballot paper please Vote Yes to Motion 12 to ensure the Co-op Group carries on working with the Co-op Party.

TONIGHT - Weds 27 April
Canning Town North, 6pm, St Lukes Church, Tarling Road,
Plaistow North, 6pm, outside Plaistow Station
Stratford and New Town, 6.30pm, Maryland Station, Leytonstone Rd, E15 1SA

Thursday 28 April
Canning Town North, 6pm Carson and Cambus corner E16 4BG
Green Street West, 6.30pm, entrance East Shopping Centre, Green Street, E7 8LE

Friday 29 April
Forest Gate North, 7-8.30pm, meeting junction of Field Road and Suffolk Street, E7 9DW, contact – Anam
Saturday 30 April
Forest Gate North, 10.30am, meeting junction of Sebert Road and Woodgrange Road, E7 0NG, (contact – Wendy)
Green Street West, 11am, entrance East Shopping Centre, Green Street, E7 8LE Custom House, 2pm, with London Young Labour, meeting Custom House library, E16 3JJ
West Ham, 2pm, ATL cafe, 125 Plaistow Rd, E15 3ET
Stratford and New Town, 2.30pm, West Ham Labour office, 306 High Street, E15 1AJ

Sunday 1 May
Canning Town South, 11am, corner Carson and Cambus Rd, E16 4BG
Custom House, 11am, Custom House library, E16 3JJ
Forest Gate South, 11am, 2 York Road E7 9HT
West Ham, 11.30am, ATL cafe, 125 Plaistow Rd, E15 3ET

Monday 2 May
Custom House, 11am, Custom House library, E16 3JJ
Stratford and New Town, 2.30pm, outside Sainsbury’s Local/Neighbourhood, Celebration Avenue, E20 1DB

Tuesday 3 May
Custom House, 6.30pm, Custom House library, E16 3JJ
Plaistow South, 6.00pm, Barking Road Community Centre, Pragel Street, E13 9EZ
Green Street West, 6pm, entrance East Shopping Centre, Green Street, E7 8LE Wednesday 4 May
Plaistow North, 6pm, outside Plaistow Station
West Ham, 6.30pm, ATL cafe, 125 Plaistow Rd, E15 3ET

Thursday 5 May. Election Day! We'll have central points around West Ham for you to come to. More info soon...

Best wishes

PS. If you can't come out to help, could you help by donating to the campaign? You could even win a signed Sadiq T-shirt! click to donate here.

Julianne Marriott
Vice Chair Campaigns and Comms, West Ham CLP
t: @westhamlabour

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

UNISON London APF AGM & Shadow Minister Angela Rayner MP


Picture from last weeks UNISON Greater London region "Labour Link" Political committee AGM. I was pleased to be re-elected as Chair for the next 2 years.

Our first speaker was Joanne McCartney AM, who gave a London Assembly report on the latest attempts to hold lazy posh boy Tory Mayor, Boris Johnson, to account and what the Labour candidate to replace him, Sadiq Khan, will do to improve our Housing, Transport and Policing.

Re-elected Committee member, Mike Katz, is also standing for election to the GLA as a list Assembly member. He pointed out that TFL management are finally admitting that Sadiq plans for transport are affordable and will save money.

I was really pleased to introduce our keynote speaker, Shadow Pension Minister, Angela Rayner MP. Angela is a former UNISON branch secretary and Regional convenor who was elected last year to represent Ashton-under-Lyne. She rapidly became a junior whip then in the last reshuffle, the Shadow Pension minister.

I have been privileged to know Angela and her fellow UNISON activist husband Mark for a number of years. At UNISON conferences over the years I have enjoyed seeing them and their lovely children.

Angela spoke about being a home carer and 16 year old single mum without any qualifications. She was written off by many but thanks in part to her union she was able to become one of the very few former manual workers to become an MP in the last election.

She described how difficult it was at first and the lack of support that new MPs get and the attacks against her by the right wing media. She was told by an old hand MP that she should see these attacks as a compliment since they are only attacking her since she being effective.

Angela is bright, super capable and driven but she is also a great example of how UNISON can help grow its activists and I am super proud of her and can't wait for her to be a Pension Minister in government ASAP. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Junior Doctors Striking to #SaveourNHS

Solidarity to NHS Junior doctors on their 48 hour total strike today and tomorrow. Doctors will only strike as an absolute last resort and only when they think that their interests co-inside with patients.

Doctors are already overworked and the last thing we want is even more tired and knackered doctors looking after us. 

This government is proving to be dominated by hard right ideological extremists and fanatics such as Jeremy Hunt. 

This is not about improving health care. It is about cutting costs regardless of the impact on the service. Never forget that this modern generation of Tories such as Hunt and Zac Goldsmith want to first destroy the NHS in order to then fully privatise it.