Monthly Archives: February 2017

Closure of Job Centres in the London Borough of Barnet

Closure of Job Centres in the London Borough of Barnet

Barnet UNISObarnet-unison-logo-e1462368170626N are concerned about the proposed closure of two of the four Job Centres in the Borough.  The DWP appears to have not fully considered the impact this would have on those people working in and using Job Centres, and the wider community including our members working to provide support for those seeking work.

Instead of closing Job Centres we call on the DWP to consider the benefits and opportunities of working in partnership with local Government.  The proposal shows a failure to learn from the success of existing DWP and Local Government partnerships such as the Boost project at Burnt Oak

Barnet’s population, already the size of many UK cities, will rise from 373, 000 to over 400,000 within the next decade. To reduce Job Centre services by 50% in the face of this growth illustrates a lack of strategic planning by the DWP

Reducing the number of Job Centres will place greater strains and stresses on people who already are in the difficult and worrying situation of having to find work as travel costs and waiting times will increase.

The closure of half of the Borough’s Job Centres will put further pressure on our members working in council services such as libraries and social care who are providing support to people who are out of work; our members are already suffering from additional pressures from cuts to jobs and resources.

Barnet UNISON call for a more imaginative and socially responsible approach to providing Job Centre Services in our Borough. This to be  arrived at after a  full and real consultation with Job Centre workers as represented by the PCS, service users, the Council and other concerned organisations.

Barnet Unison – Local Government branch.

Votes for residents on estates facing regeneration

gVcdXkmjUhhcUcP-800x450-noPadIn recent years, London has seen a number of estates undergo ‘regeneration’. Many of these have resulted in demolition, the loss of much needed social homes, and the displacement of communities.

Sadiq Khan has released a ‘Draft Good Practice Guide to Estate Regeneration’, but as it stands none of the most important safeguards are enshrined. It should be a basic democratic right that people living on estates facing regeneration should get to have a vote on the different plans.

We call on Sadiq Khan to require that regeneration takes place ONLY when there is resident support. Councils must BALLOT their residents, ensuring everyone gets a VOTE in the future of their home.

As the mayor promised in his manifesto, regeneration should only go ahead with majority resident support.

  • Do not demolish good homes
  • All residents must have final say via ballot on any regeneration/demolition plan
  • Rents need to stay at council ‘social’ rent levels
  • Right of return must be contractually enforceable
  • All financial and technical information about estates to be made public
  • Leaseholders must have a right to return or receive full market value of their property
This petition will be delivered to:

North London says no to Trump

5d977d4c-dd0d-4856-8eaf-d4d1611ef3c4North London Says No to Trump –
ADD YOUR NAME HERE

We the undersigned, from across North London (namely the boroughs of Barnet, Camden, Enfield, Haringey and Islington), write to express our opposition to US President Donald Trump being accorded a state visit to this country.

Racism, sexism, misogyny, Islamophobia, antisemitism, homophobia, war mongering, climate change denial or policies designed to boost the wealth of the already super-rich should not be rewarded or celebrated – most people  here want no part of it. They do not expect our government to condone or celebrate such policies or the values that stand behind them.

Trump is, as the president of the richest and most powerful nation on earth, uniquely placed to do good or ill. His tenure in office so far shows beyond doubt that he intends the latter.

We call on elected representatives, local councils and all sections of society from across North London to express their opposition to him being accorded a state visit, and we pledge to join those who will protest against Trump’ state visit.

Please forward this email to spread the word and ADD YOUR NAME HERE

Talk about your struggles with housing costs in London

lightAre you struggling with housing costs in London and want to tell your story in the media?

Next month a major piece of research will be published, looking at the high cost of living in London, particularly for households on modest incomes. We want to make sure that the message is heard loud and clear that rising rents are a major problem for a large group of Londoners across the city.

Perhaps you’ve been forced to move because the landlord has put up the rent, or the gap between your wages and housing costs means you’ve had to put up with unsuitable homes, or just found it harder and harder to find anywhere to live in the city.

If you would be interested in speaking to the media about your experiences, please reply to sebklier@generationrent.org by Friday 3 March, giving a little bit of information about the problems you’ve faced as a result of London’s high housing costs.

Please do pass this on to anyone else you think might also be interested.

Thanks – together we can make the case for housing in London that is properly affordable for all the city’s residents.

 

All the best,

Generation Rent
http://www.generationrent.org/

Air Pollution and what we can do about it

friendsoftheearth

 

 

 

 

You are cordially invited to a meeting on “Air Pollution and what we can do about it” on March 23rd 8 pm, at St John the Baptist Church , Barnet High St EN5 4BW.

Speakers are:

  • Jean Lambert, MEP,
  • Paul Drummond, UCL,
  • Aaron Kiely, Friends of the Earth
  • Andrea Lee, Client Earth

Each will give a short talk and afterwards there will be a Q & A session.
Buses: 107, 307, 84, 263, 326, 34, 134.
Everybody welcome!

Kind Regards

Phil Fletcher
(Barnet Friends of the Earth)

Hate Crime – Why I reported it to the Police

1ji0bqReproduced from John Burgess’ blog.

Yesterday, I registered a hate crime directed at me.

I registered the hate crime because on Thursday 9 February, 2017 I received an unsolicited email from someone I do not know and who claimed to be supporting me.

It is a sickening email. I have shared it with some close friends.

Because of the serious nature of the allegations I have responded back to the sender asking for their contact details so that I can speak with them. In my opinion if the allegations were true there would be serious ramifications for the trade union movement.

Any reasonable person after receiving such a shocking email and having been unable to elicit a response from the sender could only come to one conclusion; that the sender was attempting to bully and intimidate me into silence.

Firstly, I want to reassure my friends that I am ok. If I had received this email a year ago I am not sure how I would have responded and it could have been very serious.

But I have been back at work for over five months. Life is never straightforward in Barnet, so I am having to operate with all the energy I have to keep my focus which is always to my members and the community we serve.

I sought the opinions of some close friends and the consensus was that the purpose of the email was to try and destabilise me, silence me and undermine my mental health so that I do not trust my comrades.

However, the sender and or the others behind this attack fail to recognise that I belong to a tight community and I also have friends outside of Barnet. I am also an organiser. It is in my blood and when someone picks on someone I can’t look away. I am not a spectator, I have to offer my help and dealing with bullies has for me been a fight that never goes away, no matter what it means to me personally.

Well, I thought about what I should do.

“Ignore it”, was a common response.

But, what about the others the sender also bullies, how can I just let this go?

I quickly decided I can’t and so I decided the first step was to register it as a hate crime with the police.

I have provided the police with the email and the email address.

I have tried to find the identity by looking up the IP address which led me to an address in California, it is an @icloud.com email address.

However, if you know someone who knows how to trace an email please let me know.

Here is an extract from the email:

“Attended the left mtg last night – debate about gen sec election where your so called comrades tore you apart

Comments like he’s a fucking liability,he s a total nut job and he’s lost the fucking plot with no one challenging them.they laughed at all your ranting a and postings ..and spoke about men in white coats appalling stuff

They said you were the worst candidate ever fielded and you are a spineless chicken especially writing grovelling apologies all the time.using words like nut case,loony etc

I have never heard such nasty language about a comrade esp their mental state.”

I don’t believe such a meeting took place. As I said earlier this was an attempt to try and bully someone who is known to have had a serious mental health breakdown.

Now it is true that I made a decision to go public about my own battle with my mental health, which I didn’t take lightly but I felt that it was one thing to tell others to share their experiences and another to keep mine to myself. It was scary decision, but I have had nothing but positive feedback from hundreds of people, some I know, our members and others who have just read some of my blog posts about my mental health issues.

This is not the first time I have been subject to threats and probably won’t be my last. I also had threatening emails and smears whilst I stood as a candidate in the UNISON General Secretary elections.

I have been the target of two hate crimes which resulted in damage to my car, one of the attacks took place less than 5 metres from my front door.

Back then I took a decision to go public, to say I would not be intimidated or bullied into silence.

Both the local press, my employer and other trade unionists rallied round by signing a message of solidarity. John McDonnell, Jeremy Corbyn along with a number of high profile trade union leaders added their names see link here:

Defend our UNISON rep – Letter to Editor

http://bit.ly/2kHwPTQ

Local press covered it here:

‘We won’t let the bullies intimidate us’ – union rep in hate attack

http://bit.ly/2lDLxJu

 “Union condemns hate crime as rep’s car is vandalised”

http://bit.ly/2l8wXwl

 “F*cking union faggot” – UNISON activist targeted in hate crime

http://bit.ly/2kzoeQQ

My message to the sender.

I will not be silenced I will not be bullied, I will not allow you to push me into the shadows.

I will not be backing down from standing up for what I believe in.

Whatever you thought you would achieve by sending that email has back-fired.

This matter is not at an end, it is only just beginning.

9th of March: Come to Barnet TUC’s Annual General Meeting!

Union-leadersIt’s that time again. Barnet TUC will be having its 2017 annual general meeting once again in Finchley’s own Safari Bar, 975 Finchley High Road N12 8QR, at 7pm this Thursday, March the 9th.

This year, we are welcoming a keynote speech from Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association general secretary, Manuel Cortes, who will be speaking to us the range of challenges that transport workers are taking on with our wider labour movement in Britain and internationally.

We also have guest speakers from:

The AGM is the event where we ratify our committee and structure for the coming year, so we can carry on the vital work of giving trade unions a voice in the community, and we want our friends from that community to come and participate. So come to the Safari Bar, take part in debate and stay for drinks (as well as some snacks that will be layed on!) with Barnet TUC.

Invite your friends to the Facebook event!

Report: Stand Up to Racism Trade Union Conference

944343_838222376289599_8345544089945264528_nLast weekend, we had the excellent initiative of having a specifically trade union and labour movement conference about anti-racism was held in London. Delegates from Barnet TUC went along.

The day itself, of course, also happened to be the day of further protests against the most racist (to say nothing of also sexist and authoritarian) president of recent American history, Donald Trump. SUtR organisers quite right cancelled the morning session to allow us all to join around 40,000 other people on this lively and important demonstration, and it put people into the right frame of mind for the day.

The opening session contained greetings and introductions from a range of trade union speakers. Ronnie Draper, general secretary of the of the Bakers’ Union, spoke about how his union was combating the myth that immigration, rather than employers, are the cause of low wages. Suzanne Matthews of Unite the Union spoke her work organising black workers with the TUC. Janet Maiden from Unison Health spoke about NHS workers defending the ideal of multiculturalism. The conference then split into three workshops: one on Brexit and Workers’ Rights, one on building solidarity with refugees and a third on the threat of the Prevent policy.

I went to the refugee solidarity session. It was kicked off by Sara Tomlinson of Lambeth TUC, who had been involved in the Care for Calais organisation. Teachers from Lambeth had been volunteering at a pop-up school at the refugee camp operated by a courageous refugee activist who has since received the NUT’s “Service to Education” award. The school served around 100 adults and dozens of children. The school provided a vital centre of normality and stability for the refugees and was more than just a place of education (in a sense, this is true of any functioning school!). It was destroyed when the camp was forcibly dispersed in November, and conditions for the refugees are now far worse, as they now live completely rough as fugitives, and risk death to sneak onto literally any vehicle they can. Care for Calais has continued distributing basic aid to refugees, even though this is now far harder, and continues to appeal for support. Trade unions are encouraged to help out by sending useful items like sleeping bags to Stand Up to Racism and to get trade unionists to the site to help, as Lambeth teachers have. A very good report from Mile End hospital followed about them organising their own-workplace based solidarity collection. Activists are strongly advised to reproduce these actions at their own work.

There was also some good information about things that have been done to help refugees inside Britain. Unite Community in the city of Chesterfield has managed to organise English for Speakers of Other Languages classes for refugees, based on its existing programme to help Eastern European workers learn English. This actually helped build solidarity between the communities and has also resulted in refugees and migrant workers joining the unions at work, which they might otherwise never have had the opportunity to do.

The other sessions also got very positive report backs. For people who do not know about Prevent, a very handy pamphlet has been produced to explain it. Essentially an institutionalised programme of getting education workers to report “potentially extremist” behaviour by students, who are almost exclusively Muslims, has created a surreal atmosphere of paranoia and discrimination that would be funny if weren’t so horrible. Young Muslims have been called in for questioning for wearing badges that say “Free Palestine” or mispronouncing words so someone else can think they heard the word “bomb”. Children growing up in such climate can scarcely be said to be free and enjoying their rights: our movement must oppose Prevent, and champion an education that is actively anti-racist. The session on Brexit was also useful, and contained a report back from the new Free Movement of Labour Campaign, which has been invited to send a speaker to Barnet TUC’s AGM next month.

Generally, this was a timely and very well organised conference that turned what could be a very bleak few hours into a useful organising event. I would support having another one in future.

Let’s stop CETA before it’s too late!

16-08-2016-protest-final-590x393From Phil Fletcher:

Please note that the Labour MEPs will be voting on the 14 of Febuary on whether to support oir not, and not on Feb 6th, as we had previously been informed.

So that gives us more time to do something against CETA! For example a quick phone call to your MEP.

Click here to make a quick, free call to Members of the European Parliament.

I’m sure you appreciate the significance of CETA by now, so here’s the last useful action you can take.  It will only take a few minutes, but might change your future drastically!

It is now 99% likely that the final vote to start Provisional Application of CETA will be on February 15th.  The Socialist and Democrat block (S&Ds) are wavering, and are going to vote on their agreed position next Monday, February 14th.  We need to lobby those that are still persuadable.

The Provisional Application will cover 90% of CETA, but will not  initially include the controversial Investor Court System ICS.  Our government is very keen to see CETA fully applied, with ICS, as a blueprint for all future trade deals outside the EU.  (Without the protection of the European Court of Justice as well of course ! ). It will be possible for the government to fully implement CETA, with ICS, by putting a notice in the House of Commons Library for a period of 18 days.  This will mean all public services (the NHS and education ) are included from now on, by default.

Copy the email below to your local Socialist and Democrat block (S&D) MEPs.  They can be found simply by typing your postcode into: https://www.writetothem.com/

If you could also resend this to any Labour party or Trade Union contacts, that would be great! After all, we only have until Monday at the latest!

In addition to this letter, if you’re in a rural constituency, you should probably mention that the Conservative government has chosen not to protect any geographical indicators, which will obscure the origins of our food, and could risk destroying local farming practices (see this UK parliamentary briefing)

Proposed Agenda for BTUC Meeting Tomorrow

Agenda for Meeting on 9th of February 2017, 7pm at Greek Cypriot Brotherhood, Finchley

06:30 PM

Meeting of Barnet Alliance for Public Services

07:00 PM

1

Attendance and apologies

07:05 PM

2

Review minutes of previous meeting

07:05 PM

3

Matters Arising from the Minutes

07:15 PM

4

Planning for the Annual General Meeting and Getting Affiliations

07:30 PM

5

Campaign for the NHS: Music Night and Demonstration on 4th March

07:45 PM

6

Anti-racism: Report from Stand Up to Racism and Demonstration on 18th March

08:00 PM

7

Industrial Reports

08:20 PM

8

Any Other Business and Delegates Motions

08:30 PM

9

Meeting Ends

Word copy of agenda:2017_02 Agenda

Minutes of January’s meeting:BTUC Jan 17

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