Announcement Exclusive

‘Dear Keir’ – Unison rep writes publicly: ‘you clapped for key workers, but that won’t pay bills. Stand up for mostly-BAME Tower Hamlets workers being fired/rehired to drive down terms’

Unison union rep John Burgess has written publicly to Labour leader Keir Starmer to ask him to step up and defend 4,000 predominantly black and ethnic minority Tower Hamlets council employees facing inexcusable treatment by a Labour-run council

Dear Keir,

I am writing to you as a Labour Party member and Unison Rep. Tower Hamlets Council is about to sack and re-engage 4,000 Council workers.

This workforce along with hundreds of thousands of Council workers was on the front-line in response to COVID-19: carers, caretakers, children’s centre workers, housing and homelessness workers, street cleaners, support workers, social workers, teachers of children with special educational needs, teaching assistants, and many others – not to mention the thousands of council workers in non-critical backroom roles who have now volunteered for redeployment to make sure that vulnerable people in our communities have the support and supplies they need during an unprecedented crisis.

Just think about that for a moment. You, along with the rest of the Country, stood outside your home clapping for key workers many of whom were referred to as unskilled workers by this Tory Government. As the Leader of the Labour Party you know clapping does not pay the bills, it does not pay the rent and it does not protect key workers and their families from COVID-19.

On Monday 6 July, 4000 employees of Labour-controlled Tower Hamlets Council will be sacked. The Council is doing this so they can impose new contracts that will reduce existing employment rights. These substantially worse terms and conditions were all overwhelmingly rejected in individual ballots conducted by their unions.

UNISON my own union nominated you for the Leadership of the Labour Party. 1.3 million UNISON members know were you were chosen by UNISON. COVID-19 has shown that our workplaces, our communities, our public services – all of which were brutalised by Tory Austerity – were unable to cope with the devastation it unleashed on workers, their families and their friends.

We know that in particular BAME workers were disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. We now have very clear 7 recommendations made in the “Beyond the data: Understanding the impact of COVID-19 on BAME groups.”

These recommendations must be actioned if we are serious about addressing the brutal inequalities that blight our workplaces, our communities, our public services. For a Labour Council to ignore these recommendations in relation to their workforce by pursuing sack and re-engage would be a disaster and impact negatively on Labour BAME activists and voters alongside grassroots Labour Party members. It is clear this Tory Government know no other way out of COVID-19 but to push more Austerity.

We know the very heroes the Government itself clapped are to be targeted by Austerity. This Government even voted down your motion for weekly testing for NHS and Care workers, something I have been crying out for on behalf of our members here in Barnet.

I speak from experience of organising in workplaces in the public, private and voluntary sector as a union rep. The Labour Party must stop attacking workers and fighting the unions that are doing the right thing. This is not a new issue. I have seen this bitter fighting here in Barnet in 1998 and most recently in Durham, Birmingham, Derby, and now in Tower Hamlets.

If Tower Hamlets Council sacks and re-engages 4000 workers, they will be joining other employers like ASDA and British Airways who have been subject to widespread condemnation across the Labour movement including many Labour MPs.

I am proud UNISON is standing in solidarity with the local branch right from the top by our general secretary Dave Prentis down to the hundreds and thousands of other UNISON members. UNISON is demanding that the imposition of new contracts is suspended and instead a new period of negotiations is resumed.

There is still time for you to intervene and signal that the Labour Party will always stand in solidarity with the workforce and their families. Not to intervene in this shocking attack on key workers will reverberate across the very working-class communities you are working in, in order to restore trust in the Labour Party.

Pick up the phone and work with UNISON. End this madness and show another future is possible for the many not the few.

John Burgess, Labour Party member and Barnet Unison Rep (personal capacity).

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  1. IMO Signed ” John Burgess, Labour Party member and Barnet Unison Rep (personal capacity).” Now Ex member of the Labour party as he’s been expelled for ….. enter any fucked up reason you like here !

  2. Its shaping up as expected…back to the 80s tory wrecking…(in this case through idiocy rather than rampant neo-con ideology welded by Thatcher but equally murderous for the working population) and a ‘so-called ‘labour party’ led by pale blue starmer in the footsteps of his hero blaire who kept the thatcherite knee on the neck of the workers.
    But it was there to be foreseen… isreal does not want a UK govmt who will join with the rest of the world (excepting USA) in the UN in condeming social and political injustices in the ‘locked down’ Palestinian lands. So the smoke screen of anti-semitism provided starmer with the opportunity for him, barrister class rep of the south east metro elite to big himself up…and you lot (i once was a proud member of Unison…now a shamful) backed him… just as he backs tory policy or at best bleats quietly.

    1. Dearie me, a poster we haven’t seen on here before, who somehow manages to work in a non sequitur reference to Israel in a comment on a story about Tower Hamlets Council is either simply a ‘Israel/Zionism’ obsessive – or that and self-aware anti-Semite looking to spread the poison on a Leftie blog. Not every issue is about Israel and the Palestinians, moron.

      A post like hereandnow’s is such a caricature of a supposed ‘Leftwinger’ being obseesed with Israel above any other issue that it can only be by a troll trying to discredit the Left.

      1. The notion that support for Israeli policies is not a central part of the Starmer strategy to crush socialists is bizarre. For the past four years the right wing of the Labour Party, in alliance with the Tory Press, the Israeli Embassy (engaged in thoroughly undiplomatic interference in UK domestic politics) and the imperialists, including their local agents in the Security Services, have laid down a massive barrage against socialist, pro-labour and anti imperialist forces within the Labour Party. And the issue that they have employed has been the charge of antisemitism.
        Any campaign to regain the soul of the Labour Party must begin with a rejection of Israel’s fascist policies and an affirmation of solidarity with the people of Palestine. It is the central moral issue of the day and emblematic of Labour’s solidarity with the oppressed, the poor and the working class, wherever they are.

  3. Do we know the pay scale of the 4,000 workers that are being targeted in this fired and re-hired exercise? How many on Principal Officer grades pay, I wonder?
    My gut feeling is that all most of them would be on Officers pay scales and a few Senior Officers perhaps? If I am right the impact of the cuts is going to be bear mainly by front like workers, and in an area like Tower Hamlets mainly BAME workers.

    1. I’d reckon that’s a forgone conclusion Maria so sad and the Starmer party will do sweet FA imo .
      Time for a new Socialist Party , Labour is a tainted brand

      1. rob – What do you think would Jeremy have done and achieved if he’d still been leader of the opposition.

      2. rob – I’m not the one enabling the Tories by constantly undermining the Labour party

    2. I’m am a frontline social worker in TH and will be sacked and rehired on a different lower paid contract. I go on strike from Friday unless TH CE and Senior management are forced to reconsider. We,are being threatened with loss if continuity of service and claiming that Unite and GMB have not balloted the members. The CEOs tone is distinctly threatening in his staff communications.

      1. Solidarity Cindy, this is monstrous, threatening staff with loss of continuity of service that will immediately impact on your annual level of pay leave.
        What about taking sickness for stress at work? I believe all of you must be under a great deal of stress? That should buy you some time.
        I believe Gavin Newlands MP from the SNP has put forward an emergency Bill to stop the practise of “fired and rehired” It has passed its first reading and will get its second reading someday soon. I hope that Starmer put forward a three line whip to ensure that every single Labour MP votes in favour of this emergency Bill.

      2. Good luck to you and your colleagues.

        Give the CEO exactly the same back. There’s more of you. Tell him clearly you guys aren’t going down without a nasty fight.

        Because you’ve been forced into this choice.

  4. Rob, with every passing day I am starting to agree with you position more and more. But unless the Trade Unions and the Socialist Campaign Group MPs are willing to support a new Socialist Party, I don’t see how a new Party is a viable proposition.
    I actually believe that if Unite, FBU, CWU and other left Trade Unions were to abandone the Labour Party and promised support to the SCG MPs so that they would leave Labour in a block and form a new Socialist Party, it would be no only a viable but it would offer too a far more effective opposition that Labour under the present leadership every will.
    Come the next General Election the new Socialist Party can bury Labour in similar way in which the Labour Party bury the Liberal Party 100 years ago.

    1. I do wish it wasn’t so Maria ,I could go on about the state of the party but there is no point its very sad .
      I agree with your thoughts , it remains to be seen what happens regarding the Forward Momentum vote which may have some positive effect on the Sept NEC elections .I am under no illusions re the viability of a new party but have been saying that the first stage is building momentum within Momentum , making good use of the Labour partys internal comms and membership channels to recruit . When sufficient momentum is achieved break away and take with it the SCG and any other TUs that are really socialist . I think, like you, that the FBU and CWU would certainly jump ship , the killer punch would be Unite .
      The core BAME MPs would follow without any doubt ( see Starmers appalling video clip on the BLM he thinks it’s only a ” moment” ffs ! ) in fact they may well be leading the charge , plus our dear friends and bloody good socialists in the JVL , I can think of no better line up to attract the many disillusioned members hanging on hoping for something good to happen

      The alternative would be that Forward Momentum achieves some success , builds a socialist base within Labour but cannot persuade enough SCG MPs or TUs to make the break . Thus continuing a un-winnable battle with the RW PLP and Staffers who run and control Labour which will utterly consume and exhaust them, and thus we are back to square one , here where we are now in 4 yrs time but no further forward .

    2. Maria/Rob
      The Socialist Party would work on one level
      We could simply point towards red Tories and Blue Tories over there
      We could point towards Tartan Tories in Scotland
      We will find out over next 12 months starting with GMB election, if left cannot get more than 3% of members to vote for left wing slate then we haven’t got a snowball chance of forming a new party

      1. Doug, I believe the election for Unison, General Secretary next December should be more interested that GMB. I hope Roger Mckenzie stands for the position. He is a good egg.
        The reason so few GMB members bother to vote on GMB internal election is because very few people can stand for election. So members don’t bother to vote, because the choice is vote for right wing candidate A or B.

      2. Good points Doug and right of course , but if GMB stays right wing and is unable then to really represent the workers or working class , i.e the bulk of their membership , then that begs the question ……. What is the point of that Union ?
        You only need look at how Sir Arse wipe Starmer who imo is now actively advocating attacks on Unions with his lackey Green in place to question the sanity of a Union that backs , supports and enables the election of such a RW twat.
        It reminds me very much of the days of the Electricians Union under the control of Eric Hammond

    1. How the public is being conned about Covid-19 tests.


      Dr Pascal Sacre

      The Test Set: Another Brick in the COVID-19 Disinformation Game Plan

      Do you want the true answer, or do you want the answer given by propaganda, official government versions and the mainstream media?

      I will give you the true, medical answer: the tests do not answer any of these questions, they are unreliable, they give overly simplistic answers that can be used by governments to make people believe what they want them to believe.

      There are two main types of tests:

      Molecular tests: RT-PCR
      Serological tests: looking for antibodies in blood
      RT-PCR [1]

      In cells taken from the back of the nose, RT-PCR searches for fragments of SARS-CoV-2 viral RNA, forms the corresponding DNA using the enzyme Reverse Transcriptase (RT) and amplifies (multiplies) the RNA-DNA fragments found using the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technique. By a complicated technique, therefore subject to many missteps, we are told that this test could quantify the viral load.

      This test, the results of which can take 2 to 7 days, is supposed to prove that you are infected (RT-PCR +) or not (RT-PCR -) by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus and that you are contagious or not contagious.

      This is not the truth.

  5. Maria & Rob, I believe the MSM and the Tories would attack any new socialist party with the same weapons and the same ferocity they used on Corbyn.
    Seems to me a couple of hundred thousand people joining the Green party might confuse the MSM since there’d be no way for them to know – or more especially prove – who’s ex-Labour and who’s not.

    1. David , yes that is very true and to be expected , hence the strength of the organisation is key and critical. That means strong leaders beholden to no-one but the membership. But the popular support is there vis a vie 2017 for a true socialist
      manifesto .Re the Greens then I can see your point but a better way maybe to have such good Green New Deal type policies just like those supported by RLB ( and now trashed by that twat Starmer ) that the need for the Green party would cease to exist. There is very little difference imo between socialists and the Greens both want the best for the planet .
      The other points re the MSM are covered by Marias comment and I don’t have anything more to add , that’s why I financially support blogs like this one and a few others as they are vital to keep going in the face of the MSM lies . Double Down News certainly seems to be doing great work imo along with many others like Novara etc etc .
      Its all about education

      1. The Green Party is pro-Europe & pro-globalisation. Much more in common with Blair’s vision of Europe than Jeremy’s & much closer to the Lib Dems.

      2. Steve the context of my comment was within the Green policies and that is the main reason for the Green’s existence , take your point about the other lesser elements of the Greens tho , they are not perfect by a long way , but better than Starmer and the Tories .and I suspect now home to more than just a few ex Labour members who have quit or been unjustly witch hunted out / expelled by the corrupt Labour machine

      3. I’d hoped this would go without saying, but the idea of joining the Green party is that with 200,000+ of us joining their 48,000 we’d influence their manifesto and their candidate selection.
        Heavily influence.

  6. Labour failed in the last four years in building our own media to counter the right MSM. We also were too slow on the rebuttal front.
    Despite the hostile MSM we nearly make it in 2017. Without the alleged sabotage we could have gain perhaps another 5 seats enough to be able to form a government. The Greens wouldn’t break into gaining other seats without PR.

  7. Tower Hamlets Council……42 Labour Councillors; 2 Tories; 1 Liberal Democrat. Voted to sack council workers & re-employ them because they are BAME? This demonstrates that the Labour Party is either institutionally racist or has contempt for any low paid manual workers. Where is the outrage from Sir Keir Starmer? Where is the outrage from the BBC? Is this a classic example of ‘BLM’ but not endorsed by highly paid elites in Sport or Entertainment & therefore irrelevant? Social injustice is not just about skin colour, it always has been a class struggle & should unite us all regardless of skin colour.

  8. Over the last 5 years I’ve become aware just how unengaged members of the Party and Unions are. Unison seems to be worse than Unite and was hopeless in not supporting JC. The situation in Tower Hamlets is a tragedy. Also a tragedy of a lack of appropriate response to corruption by the media and vested interests.

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