Saturday, April 25, 2015

Ilford North, Stratford, Canning Town, Ilford North

This collage is a snapshot of campaigning during the last 48 hours. On Thursday evening I went to Ilford North and was sent out with Ross, Jeremy and Glen to speak to the postal voters at the Tiptree Estate. Which is a very well managed and beautifully designed Council housing estate in Clayhall. Lots of safe, green spaces for kids to play.

On Friday evening I was in Maryland, Stratford with by-election candidate, Charlene McLean. This was one of the slowest canvasses I have ever been on since seemingly everyone wanted to stop, speak and chat to Charlene and local Councillor "Red" Terry Paul. One resident even went off and posted her postal ballot paper for Charlene while we watched.

Today we had a lively stall in Canning Town with Lyn Brown, our West Ham Labour Parliamentary Candidate and supporters. It was heart warning to see local residents queuing up to shake Lyn's hand and wish her luck in the general election.

After the stall we went off to canvass in Stratford or Ilford North. I ended up in Ilford North with Cllr John Whitworth and we were given a "car round" to canvass and found ourselves out in the rural part of the constituency.  The results were as good as we get in the more urban areas. People are fed up of this Government and just want the Tories out. 

The band played waltzing matilda


Today is the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the First World War Gallipoli campaign.  The 8 month conflict was one of the most vicious of that war.

This song was written by Eric Bogle in 1971 and was today described by a good friend of mine (and who has a doctorate in History) as "the most powerful anti-war song I have ever heard".

Gallipoli is very important to Australians  and New Zealanders but British and French troops also served there. My maternal Grandfather, Frederick Matthews, fought there with the Hawke Battalion, Royal Naval Division. He arrived after the landing in July 1915. I will post further in July about him and his Battalion's experiences in Gallipoli and then later in France. 

Friday, April 24, 2015

"Broken Commitments, Vulnerable Workers" - Human rights violations by National Express PLC

Find out below what happened when two British MPs were invited by low paid and exploited workers to find out how they were treated by their British owned employers. 

On May 6 it will the National Express AGM. If you have a funded pension or insurance policy contact your administrators and urge them to make sure that their fund manager supports resolution 22. 

"Ian Lavery and Jim Sheridan went on a fact-finding mission to to investigate labour rights violations at National Express Group operations in the United States.

We embarked on our trip to the United States to learn first-hand about UK based National Express Group’s North American school bus subsidiary – Durham School Services. We endeavoured to hear from Durham school bus workers and management, parents, school board of education members, elected officials, community organizations, labour relations experts and trade union representatives. 

While we went to Charleston, South Carolina and Memphis, Tennessee we also spoke with Durham workers from Jacksonville and Santa Rosa County, Florida; Grey’s Lake, Illinois; and Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Based on our investigation we produced a report and also set forth recommendations to address the deep concerns we have with Durham School Services.

See previous post here

Thursday, April 23, 2015

UNISON NEC Elections 2015: John Gray Election Statement

Your existing NEC member
I am seeking your support for my re-election as one of your two members of the UNISON National Executive Committee (NEC) for Community, which is the part of the union for members who work in the voluntary sector, housing associations and charities.

A little bit about me
I have worked in front line housing management in a large inner city estate for over 20 years.  I now work for one of the biggest Housing Associations in the country but my first job was in Welfare Rights with a small voluntary organisation in Scotland. I have also worked in Wales and Yorkshire.

Grass Roots Union Activist
As a UNISON activist I have been elected to many different branch and regional positions including Treasurer, Health & Safety, Labour Link, Welfare and International officer.  I am currently the Secretary of the Greater London Housing Associations Branch.

·         But fundamentally I am a workplace steward negotiating pay and conditions with my employer and defending members in discipline, grievance and sickness hearings.

Pay, jobs and conditions
Community members have faced amongst the very worse cuts in jobs and attacks on their pay, pensions, terms and conditions. We must play our part in opposing austerity and arguing for an alternative economic policy.

Care and support members are under threat as unscrupulous employers deliberately underbid to win Supporting People and health contracts then try and do everything they can to destroy TUPE protections.

Many Housing management organisations are cash rich after years of inflation plus rent rises yet refuse to give their staff decent pay rises.

·         UNISON must be there to support members who stand up to employers who exploit them. 

As an NEC member there are a number of campaigns specific to our sector that I am actively supporting:

·         Living Wage Boards:  To decide the pay and conditions of all staff by collective bargaining including a living wage minimum and decent sickness benefits for all Community workers and agency/sub-contractors;

·         No public money for “union busters”: Any employer that does not have a trade union recognition agreement should be barred from access to public money either from local or national government;

·         We want decent pensions for all and everyone to have access to a safe and affordable scheme which will protect members’ futures;

·         Democratise our workplaces and stop our management boards being run by highly paid, unelected and unrepresentative “elites”. There should be union representation on all boards, especially their remuneration (pay) committees;

·         Adequate funding and resources for all UNISON branches that have Community members to ensure that we have the means to properly support and represent all.

You can contact me on any issues via johndotgray2012atbtinternetdotcom or ring me on 07977 285 297.  Please also support June Poole from Rochdale branch for the other Community Female seat. June and I will work closely as a team fighting your corner at the highest level in the union.

John Gray 

(Check out my recommendations for other regional and national seats here or on Facebook. 
All UNISON members should have received a ballot paper at their home address by now.
If not you should ring 0800 0857 857 for a duplicate. Lines open 6am to midnight, Monday to Friday and 9am to 4pm on Saturday. The ballot does not finish until May 15).

Campaigning for West Ham, Stratford & Thurrock


Picture collage of West Ham Labour Party campaigning for Polly Billington in the marginal seat of Thurrock and in Stratford & New Town ward.

In Stratford we managed to get into the new residential blocks either side of the High Street and were able to see some fantastic views over the area and the Queen Elizabeth Park.

West Ham are campaigning tonight in Ilford North from 6pm (Gants Hill HQ) and Stratford on Friday at 4pm. 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Workers Memorial at Three Mills Green Park,, Stratford, London

I went this evening to check out the memorial and the site for the remembrance ceremony next week.

On Tuesday 28 April it is Worker Memorial Day (also known as the International Day for Workers Safety). Which is a United Nations sponsored event supported in the UK by the HSE, TUC and CBI.

It is a day to remember those who were killed at work or have died from industrial injuries and diseases. It is also a campaigning day for the living.

My UNISON branch is organising a wreath laying ceremony in Three Mills Green, Stratford, East London. Further details to follow.

Check out this post about Workers Memorial Day and the tragedy at this site which the statute honours.

I think that this is a very special and important place for working class art and history which hardly anyone knows about. 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

How do you know whether to Vote Tory or not? New scientific research reveals all

Check out this completely neutral, unbiased and extremely scientific flow chart on how to decide whether or not you should vote Tory. 

UNISON's NEC Elections: No Need to reclaim our UNION...You already own it!

This is a great flyer supporting the candidates of light and reason who are standing in the UNISON National Executive Committee (NEC) elections.

A minority faction within the union who have been regularly beaten in past ballots are attacking the union's democratic processes.

It is a shame that at the same time that the union is battling employers and the Tory Government that some think it is acceptable to attack their own union and anyone who does not agree with them.

Win or lose my seat, I will accept the democratic process.

Check out my recommendations for other regional and national seats here or on Facebook.

All UNISON members should have received a ballot paper at their home address by now.

If not you should ring 0800 0857 857 for a duplicate. Lines open 6am to midnight, Monday to Friday and 9am to 4pm on Saturday. The ballot does not finish until May 15.

(Hat tip Chris Hanrahan)

Monday, April 20, 2015

Got a vote? Here's how to "Keep it Co-op"

If you are a voting member of the Co-operative Group you should have received a ballot paper for this year's crucial AGM.  If you believe it needs to retain its political voice and link with the Co-operative Party then vote "For" on motions 9 and 10.

Check out "Keep it Co-op" website

West Ham & East Ham Labour Campaigning Weekend


This is another picture collage of West Ham (and East Ham) Labour out campaigning this weekend.

There is a Stratford & New Town ward team in Abbey Lane, E15. While East and West Ham activists were out Sunday morning with Ilford South, Mike Gapes. In the afternoon, Stephen Twigg was at Ilford North to show support. I went door knocking with Tower Hamlets Councillors, Josh Peck, Danny Hassell and Redbridge Councillor, Stuart Bellwood.

We went to Roding ward where we a pretty good response. I spoke to a number of residents who despite being in their 20's were first time voters intending to vote in this election and those who were genuinely undecided who to vote for and were up for a  political conversation.

At one home Danny knocked at an enormous Rottweiler dog charged out of the doorway despite being called back by its owner, but after a few dodgy seconds we realised that it was very friendly and in fact as soft as butter.

Back at the Ilford North Campaign base I spoke to a fellow North Walian about Labour chances in Clwyd (North Wales) and than ran into more West Hammers returning from another door knocking team.

I couldn't resist including the fanatic picture of Labour Leader, Ed Miliband and the Chester Hen Party (top right) nor the picture of baby Juniper (daughter of Cllr Farah Nazeer) with the Kinnocks in Hampstead & Kilburn.