Friday, June 15, 2007

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Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Honda and WH Smith under attack from union

From the Evening Advertiser June 4th 2007

BRITAIN'S biggest union has criticised the treatment of agency workers at Swindon firms. Unite conducted a survey showing how much businesses rely on underpaid temporary staff, who have no job security.

The report showed that two of the town's biggest employers gave temporary workers less pay and time off.

Both Honda and WH Smith came under fire from the newly formed union, made up of Amicus and the Transport And General Workers' Union.

As reported in the Advertiser, Honda announced plans to take on an extra 700 staff in Swindon last September.

But, according to Unite, the firm has now decided that all new recruits must be hired through an agency on a temporary basis to start with.

Permanent staff get £9.62 an hour, but temporary workers are paid less than £8.

Honda's agency staff are also entitled to a third less holiday entitlement. They can take 20 days a year instead of the usual 33 days offered to their colleagues.

Jim D'Avila, the Amicus regional organiser for Swindon, said: "Temporary workers are treated as second class citizens. We are campaigning to ensure agency staff get treated the same as their colleagues.

"Honda advertised that they were taking on workers earning up to £22,000. People will have made applications thinking that £22,000 sounds good, but six months later they only get £14,000."

Mr D'Avila, pictured, said that new staff at Honda had to work as temps for six months first, then they could be put on a probationary contract with Honda for another six months.

"During that whole year they could be let go without any warning at all," he said.

"What this does is make the staff turnover higher, which is not necessarily the best thing for Honda."

Honda spokeswoman Julie Cameron said: "Car manufacturing is extremely competitive and, in order to manage the flexibility required in the sales fluctuations, we choose to recruit our production associates on a temporary to permanent' basis.

"As with all new starters holidays and benefits are accrued related to service. This process has proved extremely successful."

Unite said temps at WH Smith were paid £5.90 an hour, £2 an hour less than permanent workers.

Agency staff get paid the same rates for working overtime, while their permanent colleagues could be paid time and a half or double-time for extra hours.

WH Smith spokeswoman Sarah Heath said the union had got its numbers wrong.

"The figures quoted are not correct," she said. "We do pay the same rates of overtime to temporary staff.

"Temporary staff are also paid a variety of different rates from £5.90 up to over the figure for permanent staff, depending on their skill and the shifts they work."

But WH Smith could not confirm the number of temporary workers currently employed at the Greenbridge stationery firm, or how many were on the higher level of pay.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Global Warming & Transport

“A man who, beyond the age of 26, finds himself on a bus can count himself a failure.”
Margaret Thatcher.

“The government has a somewhat contradictory attitude to local transport, on the one hand dictating on major road and public transport projects, while adopting a hands off approach to buses.”
House of Commons Transport Committee

Swindon Trades Union Council, together with Swindon Climate Action Network (SCAN - is organising a meeting on the theme of Climate Change and Transport on September 5th. This is hoped to be a focus for helping to develop a transport campaign.

It is commonly said that in order to tackle climate change it is necessary to make a significant shift from road to rail and from car to bus, in order to cut emissions. However, our transport system does not take account of the social costs of road transport and the dominance of car use. Whereas the railways have to sustain the cost of maintenance and renewal of their infrastructure, the cost of the road infrastructure is born out of general taxation. So the individual user and businesses do not have to pay the cost of the infrastructure they use. Subsidies for the railways were most often viewed as a ‘burden’ on the tax payer but subsidies for roads were not.

There are many reasons why this shift has not taken place. One of them is the fact that the railways were privatised and the buses were de-regulated. In the case of the railways, so patent has been the failure of privatisation that ‘bringing the railways back into the public sector’ is majority opinion in the country. However, despite the effective collapse of Network Rail, the government left the company as a private one, albeit one which is not quoted on the stock market. It is a ‘not for dividend company’ but even though it relies on government money it is run like a private business and the profit motive remains. The same applies to the rail companies, only more so. Profit is their game regardless of social needs. Moreover, last year the government set service frameworks for the private companies which led them to propose cuts in train services. This led to campaigns around the country against these cuts. In the South West we have seen the crazy situation that because of the concern of the companies to maximise profits, in some areas they have been providing too few carriages for the numbers of people who want to use the service.

Earlier in the year campaigners organised a ticket boycott to highlight the fact that there were insufficient carriages in the service from Bath. The RMT rail union supported the campaign, refusing to collect tickets. (See See also a campaign against cuts in services in Wiltshire) What sense environmentally does it make to drive people back into their cars when they want to use the train?

The profit making basis of the service has led to ticket prices climbing so much that there is a real prospect of people being driven off the rail and back into their cars. The fact that numbers of rail journeys have increased, despite these circumstances, is largely the result of levels of congestion on the roads, especially in the metropolitan areas.

What about the buses?

Road Transport accounted for an estimated 22% of greenhouse gas emissions in 2005, according to DEFRA. The only larger component, with 37% is the energy industry. In addition road transport is a major source of pollution, including ‘particulates’ which have a detrimental impact on health and is a cost which the NHS has to bear.

The House of Commons Transport Committee report (Bus Services Across the UK, Oct 2006) reached the not too difficult conclusion that Bus Deregulation has been a failure. The bus industry outside London was deregulated by the Transport Act of 1985. Road service licensing was abolished in 1986. Local authorities were no longer permitted to provide ‘blanket support’ for bus services. Deregulation has exacerbated the decline which resulted from the growth of car ownership. As Stephen Joseph of the campaigning group Transport 2000 said in evidence to the committee, real costs of motoring have declined whilst bus fares have been increasing above the rate of inflation.

Since deregulation of the bus industry by Thatcher there has been (outside of London) a decline in bus use. Since 1995-6 local bus journeys outside London have fallen from 2,660 million to 2,315 million. In London they have increased from 1,193 million to 1,810 million.

The Transport Committee says that “Modal shift from car to bus is vital if the United Kingdom is to properly tackle congestion and reduce carbon emissions.” However, as we shall see the proposals of the Transport Committee are timid, and unlikely to drive such a ‘modal shift’.

The current government introduced a Transport Act in 2000, which from February 2001 gave powers to local authorities to enter into ‘Quality Partnerships’ and ‘Quality Contracts’. The latter were supposed to replace open competition with a ‘licensed regime’. However, not a single contract has been entered in to, in large part because of the threat of legal action (Stagecoach considers such agreements would amount to “confiscating our business”).

The approach of the government reflects its philosophical infatuation with the benefits of ‘competition’, and the idea that ‘ownership does not matter’. But the consequences of bus deregulation was precisely what critics of the proposal had predicted: unprofitable routes would be abandoned, and competition would lead to a concentration of ownership into a small number of major companies. Whilst Thatcher’s legislation enabled some routes to be subsidised, only 16% of services receive subsidy today. Moreover, it has become a common feature for companies to pull out of providing services in some areas where the rate of profit is not considered high enough, only for them to tender for them when a local authority has to step in order to provide a subsidy for a socially necessary service.

In London where bus services receive a £550 million subsidy (on contracts worth £1.4 billion) bus usage has increased considerably. Spending on buses per head is £660 in London compared with £230 outside!

Many local authorities, particularly Passenger Transport Executives, argue that operators are earning excessive profits from their bus operations while they shrink their services, raise fares and fail to improve infrastructure. The companies themselves put their return on capital at between 6 and 18% for 2005-6. The Transport Committee recommended that the government commission a study to find the truth. The government has declined to do so since it would be contrary to its free market dogma.

The introduction of concessionary fares has increased the use of buses by between 20 and 100% in some routes according to Bus User UK. The Transport Committee has supported extension of the scheme to children under 16 and those in full-time education because of the benefits in terms of reducing congestion and car usage during the period of the ‘school run’. That said, the Transport Committee says that the concessionary fare scheme is a ‘mess’. Many local authorities believe they have been insufficient finds to carry out the scheme.

The main suggestion of the HCTP is to reform the system of Quality Contracts to make them easier to obtain, whilst indemnifying PTAs and local authorities from the danger of prosecution by bus companies. However, the basic problem remains that a competitive market for buses cannot provide bus services which are socially necessary nor will it produce the ‘modal shift’ necessary from car to bus since the financial pressure which local authorities are under means that they have little money for investing in socially necessary services which are not profitable.

As the HCTC reports, the reason for the decline of bus usage outside of London is the lack of reliability and frequency of bus services and the rising cost of fares. In non-PTE areas on England (using 1995 as 100) prices on local buses rose to 165.9 in 2005/6 (in London it is only 139.7).

Subsidising the private sector

In late March Stroud MP David Drew asked a Parliamentary question requesting a yearly break-down of the Bus Service Operators Grant paid to bus operators since the Transport Act of 2000. It is paid on the basis of how much fuel they use. It turns out that the subsidy (including an estimate for 2006-7) has been £2.5 billion.

RMT union General secretary Bob Crow commented that it was scandalous that private bus companies which are already making mega-profits have been receiving billions of pounds of public money just for burning fuel.

“At a time when there is a continued fall in passenger numbers outside London, it is astonishing that the most important source of subsidy from central government is used to pay bus companies petrol costs instead of improving services to passengers.

Public transport has a key role to play in reducing carbon emissions but subsidising fuel consumption is hardly a sensible way of meeting the government’s environmental objectives.”

The only serious means of getting people travelling by bus rather than car is if the services provided are convenient, frequent and affordable. The growth of passenger numbers in London shows what can be achieved with subsidies. However, the current government shares the same delusion as Thatcher did that market mechanisms can provide ‘consumers’ with what they want. In reality the step which should be taken is to abandon failed deregulation and municipalise bus services as contracts run out (like the RMT has called for the train routes to be brought back into the public sector when their contracts run out).

At the same time tax measures could be brought into play which would encourage bus use. For example, instead of subsidising company cars, they should be heavily penalised in order to make it so expensive that they were progressively phased out.

In Swindon we are lucky enough to have a municipal bus service. On a turnover of £9 million it produces a surplus of £100,000 (last year). However the Council takes a ‘dividend’ of £250,000 (so the surplus would have been £350,000).

Travelling to work

One of the aspects of the campaign which SCAN is launching will be related to travel to work. In order for a cut in the number of car journeys, there are a number of possibilities. Car share schemes exist in some work places already. Another possibility which might be applied to large companies is a subsidy to Thamesdown Transport in order to provide a work bus scheme or to increase services on an existing route at times when people travel to and from work.

{The STUC/SCAN meeting is on September 5th at 7.30 at the Broadgreen Centre in Salisbury St, off of Manchester Rd}

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

PCS Pickets in Swindon

Below are two pictures of picket lines in Swindon, at the Inland Revenue and the Magistrates Court. This was part of national action by the union against job cuts and privatisation. More action could follow as the government job cull continues.

There is also the prospect of ballots for strike action for local government and NHS workers against the government's staggered pay increase which adds up to a miserly 1.9%.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Swindon Trades Union Council Meeting
Climate Change & the role of the Trades Unions
Wednesday April 4th 2007
7.30 p.m.
Broadgreen Centre, Salisbury St (off of Manchester Rd)

Swindon TUC’s April meeting will hold a discussion on the question of global warming and what role the trades unions can play in tackling this global problem. Andy Parsons from the Swindon Climate Action Network will lead off the discussion. Anybody interested is welcome to attend.

Within the trade union movement there are differences over issues such as a new round of nuclear power stations which some unions (those with members who work in the industry) say will help to tackle global warming, whilst others point to the incredible cost and the dangers inherent in such a system exemplified by the disastrous accidents at Chernobyl and Three Mile Island.

It is a commonplace that in order to cut emissions it is necessary to have a radical shift from road to rail. Yet the current government has left the privatised rail network in place, refusing to re-nationalise it. Without a cheaper and more reliable service there is hardly liable to be any significant shift from road to rail. Indeed in the last year train services were cut, encouraging people to return to their cars. In some parts of the South West the privatised train companies put on so few carriages that people who want to use the service are sometimes unable to board them because they are packed like sardines.

One of the questions which merits discussion is the relationship between individual action and collective action. Whilst individuals can take action in relation to their own lives is this sufficient to tackle global problems? The trades unions as collective organisations of working people historically have taken action which has limited the free reign of ‘the market’ and counter-posed social needs to the profit motive which lies at the heart of the economic system we live under. Nationalisation of the railways and the creation of the NHS were two examples carried out by Labour governments.

Can ‘market’ methods tackle global warming? Every political party professes to be ‘green’ today, whilst even the big multi-nationals are presenting a green image. As an example BP calls itself ‘Beyond Petroleum’ even whilst it makes fantastic profits and continues to pollute the environment. Yet the infrastructure of the big companies relies on a distribution network which whilst rational from the point of view of making profits, is irrational from the point of view of the health of the environment and of human beings who suffer the consequences of pollution. The international financial system has pressured countries previously self-sufficient in food to turn to cash crops. Whilst many of their peoples go hungry these cash crops are flown to Europe and the US.

What can the environmental movements and the trades union learn from each other? Is it possible to combine individual and collective action? Can the current economic system be reformed sufficiently to tackle the environmental crisis or do we need to strive for an economic system in which production is based on human needs rather than the profit motive? These are some of the questions we will discuss. Come along and have your say.

Report of the Isreali Workers Advice Center visit to Britain (March 2007).

Swindon TUC was pleased to help to facilitate a visit to Britain by the Israeli Workers Advice Center. The purpose of the visit was twofold:

To provide WAC with the opportunity of acquainting the British unions with their work organising workers, campaigning against the discrimination which Arab Israelis suffer in Israel, and against the closure which denies the right of Palestinians from the occupied territories to work in Israel.

To learn about the work of British unions and the struggles they are involved in.

To that end they were able to meet with:

FBU General Secretary Matt Wrack and other national officers, including the union's international officer Dean Mills.
RMT General Secretary Bob Crow, President John Leach and members of the Council of Executives.
The TUC's International Officer Owen Tudor.
The GMB's international officer Joni McDougall.
Officers from UNISON's international department, Nick Siegler and Nick Crook.
John McDonnell MP, secretary of a number of union Parliamentary Groups.
South West TUC Secretary Nigel Costley.
The Palestine Solidarity Campaign's Trade Union Officer Bernard Regan.

In addition they visited Camden UNISON, the GMB's Swindon office to learn about the union's migrant worker organising, and were able to speak to Bristol TUC and a special meeting organised by Oxford TUC.

The RMT was good enough to provide accomodation in London for the delegation which comprised Assaf Adiv (National Coordinator), Khitam Na'amneh (Women's Organiser) and Roni Ben Efrat (International Relations).

The visit succeeded in making WAC's activities more widely known and opening up a dialogue with British unions, with a view to developing fraternal relations. In particular the meetings with the TUC and the national unions mean that WAC is recognised as a legitimate element of the equation of the Palestinian and Israeli workers movement.

A number of offers were made such as a two page spread in the RMT members' paper, RMT News, regular exchange of reports, which will be followed up. Any trade union delegation visiting Israel and Palestine has an open invitation to meet with WAC.

The officially recognised union federation in Israel is the Histadrut. WAC organises outside this framework, in part because its activities were initially concentrated on the Arab/Palestinian Israeli population, which is not generally organised by the Histadrut. WAC concentrates its efforts on the massive task of organising amongst the 70% of workers who are unorganised.

As an organisation comprised of Jews and Arabs, working together as equals, it also seeks to organise workers regardless of their race, nationality or religion. For instance, it organises staff of Israeli Educational TV who are employed on a 'temporary' basis in order to deny them the rights of permanent employees. Most of these are Jewish workers. (See )

WAC originated, as the name suggests, as an advice and support centre helping workers who had no voice in Histadrut to deal with problems in the workplace (or the unemployment offices). However, it moved on to tackling collective issues. In the context of the Israeli situation one of its key tasks was to fight for jobs for Arab Israeli citizens, firstly in the building industry (many workers had been driven out of the industry by conscious government policy of important cheaper foreign labour under conditions of super-exploitation) and latterly in Agriculture. WAC had to tackle the racism and prejudice according to which Arab workers are 'lazy' or uninterested in gaining jobs.

Consequently WAC is a hybrid type of organisation, an NGO, but one with the aspiration to build an independent trade union movement, albeit it under very difficult conditions.

Whilst there are other NGOs doing good work in supporting oppressed workers, and the unemployed, campaigning for rights etc, WAC is unique insofar as it brings together Arabs and Jews with the perspective of building an independent workers' movement and a radical trade union which sees itself as part of the struggle of the working class internationally, challenging 'globalisation'.

It's opposition to the oppression of the 20% of the Israeli population which is Arab/Palestinian, makes it difficult to build support amongst the Jewish population, at least without a break with the Zionist outlook which sees Israel as 'a state of the Jews'. Nevertheless its work shows the practical possibility of building a movement which unites Jews and Arabs.

For more information on WAC visit its web site at:

You can receive WAC's bi-monthly English language newsletter by emailing

The Israeli English language magazine Challenge, which is devoted to examining the Israel/Palestine conflict, has regular reports on the activities of WAC:

Whilst the delegation was in Britain, The Mall, a short (12 minute) DVD about ‘Illegal’ Palestinian workers squatting in an unfinished Mall in Tel Aviv, was shown at an International Documentary Film Festival in Oxford. The DVD was made by Video 48, which works with WAC (see ). Also available are:

A Job To Win – a film about WAC’s campaign to get Arab Israelis back into the construction industry.
The Mission - a film of a visit by a European Trade Union delegation to Israel and the West Bank organised by WAC.
Breaking Walls – a film about a mural painted by US artist Mike Alewitz in an Arab Israeli village, Dani Ben Simhon who gave up a potentially lucrative art career to devote his efforts to organising for WAC, and Musav Salameh, a building worker, who is kept apart from his parents in the West Bank by Israel's separation wall.

Our thanks to those who helped with the visit and to the following organisations for their financial support which made the trip possible:

Bracknell Amicus
Bridgwater TUC
Bristol RMT
Oxford TUC
Socialist Unity Network
Swindon TUC
Waterloo RMT
Wiltshire & Swindon GMB

Martin Wicks
Secretary Swindon TUC

Sunday, March 04, 2007

BNP calls off 'trade union' launch

Two pieces of news on the BNP ffrom Searchlight South West

On the eve of Searchlight's exposure of the apartheid terrorism link behind Solidarity, the British National Party's trade union has cancelled its first annual general meeting and re-launch, due to be held in central London on 24 Febuary.

The BNP has cited public order considerations, but this is just a smokescreen. The BNP is running scared after Searchlight started asking questions about the South African apartheid connection and the BNP's secret think-tank. Solidarity's website is hosted by a man called Dr Lambertus Nieuwhof. He and his Herefordshire-based company, Vidronic Online, have also taken over most of the BNP's other internet operations, including the party's website for Barking and Dagenham, where the BNP had 12 councillors elected last May. Nieuwhof, known in the BNP as Bep, is also part of the BNP's secret think-tank, a small inner circle of men whose identity is unknown to both the wider membership and the general public. Their task is to form policy for Nick Griffin, the BNP leader, and give the party the intellectual underpinning it has hitherto lacked.

Nieuwhof, 35, is an immigrant but that has proved no bar to his rise to a position of influence in the BNP. Perhaps that is because of his past record as a white racist fighter. Fifteen years ago South Africa was in the process of dismantling apartheid. The white supremacists of the terrorist Afrikaner Weerstand Beweging (AWB) were doing their utmost to prevent the move towards majority rule and to restore the racist system. Three men had planted a home-made bomb at the Calvary Church School in protest against the school's decision to become racially mixed. When the bomb failed to go off, one of them lost his nerve. He gave himself up to the police and turned in his two associates. One of those associates was Nieuwhof. At the end of the resulting court case he received a derisory 12-month suspended prison sentence.

Leaving South Africa Nieuwhof set off for Britain, where he came into contact with Arthur Kemp, another South African extremist exile, who had been arrested for the murder of Chris Hani, a close colleague of Nelson Mandela, in April 1993 but released without charge. Kemp had been named by Clive Derby-Lewis, a far-right South African MP who is now serving life imprisonment for setting up Hani's murder, as the author of a hit list of prominent anti-apartheid leaders. Kemp too has become influential in the BNP. His articles appear on the BNP website and his 586-page tome March of the Titans comes highly recommended on the BNP's booklist. The book propounds the view that "all civilisations rise and fall according to their racial homogeneity and nothing else". Kemp still supports apartheid.

In an article in November 2004 on South Africa under the ANC he complained that: "... the Tory/Labour old gang parties, were all complicit in ensuring the creation of the new South Africa, working as hard as they could to bring about the downfall of the previous White government".

Gerry Gable, publisher of Searchlight, said: "The handmaidens of South Africa's murderous apartheid regime are unfortunately alive and well and pulling the strings in the British National Party. "

TUC welcomes 'union can expel BNP member' judgement

The TUC has welcomed today's decision by the European Court of Human Rights that unions can expel members of the far-right BNP, and that this is not incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights.

The case was brought by traindrivers' union ASLEF, after the UK courts found in favour of a BNP member expelled from the union because of the incompatibility of BNP views and those of the trade union movement.

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said, "This is an important and welcome judgement. The European Court of Human Rights has made the common sense decision that the right to freedom of association does not force unions to accept into membership people opposed to the basic principles of trade unionism. Instead it says that the European Convention's provisions protect unions from excessive interference by government in deciding how they run their own affairs, including how they choose their members."We will need to discuss further all the implications of this judgement, including what changes now need to be made to UK law, but every union will welcome this clear decision that they can now expel BNP members."

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Swindon TUC Health and Safety site

Swindon TUC has set up a new site dedicated to Health & Safety issues, following the February 5th Health and safety conference we held.

You can visit the site at:

It has a report of the conference and will have H&S news posted on a regular basis. If you have any news relating to H&S or you see an article or information which you think should be posted on the site please let us know by emailing us at:

Defend Council Housing response to Hills Report

Professor John Hills yesterday published his report Ends & Means on the ‘Role of Social Housing’.

It is clear that someone – we presume Ruth Kelly’s Department for Communities – is briefing that Hills has endorsed an attack on the fundamental principles of council housing.

It is obvious that Ministers are increasingly desperate – losing the Brighton ballot (another 77% NO vote announced today) increases the pressure on them to listen to the people and agree the ‘Fourth Option’ but they are still intent on trying to find a way of getting rid of council housing. Hill’s position is less clear.

Professor Hills went out of his way at the LSE yesterday afternoon to preface his main remarks by underlining his commitment to the principles of ‘decent’, ‘affordable’ and ‘secure’ housing. He said:

"if you came with the impression that I was going to be recommending the ending of security of tenure, or that tenants if they're lucky enough to improve their circumstances will be thrown out of their homes, then you're going to be disappointed."… "security and stability are a fundamental part of their lives"

Tenants packed a room at Parliament after the Hills report launch to launch the new DCH pamphlet 'Dear Gordon' Invest in decent, affordable, secure and accountable council housing which challenges Gordon Brown to change government policy.

MPs attending included Michael Meacher, Frank Dobson, Ken Purchase, Jon Cruddas, Paul Holmes, George Galloway, Kelvin Hopkins, Brian Iddon, Alan Simpson, Harriet Harman, Mike Gapes, John Hemming and Brian Binley. Trade union leaders Gail Cartmail (Amicus), Jack Dromey (T&G), Iain McNicol (GMB) and Wilf Flinn (UCATT) spoke alongside Professor Peter Ambrose and tenants from local campaigns.

Alan Walter, Defend Council Housing chair argued “Government has been trying to get rid of council housing by privatisation. Now that they’re losing tenants ballots around the country they’re flying a kite to see whether they can regulate or legislate to take away our secure life long tenancies. 3 million council tenants will be outraged and MPs need to decide quickly which side they are on! Stop the deliberate stigmatisation of council tenants and council estates and start investing to improve existing council homes and build new ones”

Austin Mitchell MP, chair House of Commons Council Housing group commented “The Hills report is an endorsement of the principles behind council housing – the need and the right to decent, affordable, secure and accountable housing provided by elected local authorities. What he missed out was the need for the big build – to provide council housing for those who either can’t afford or don’t want to get on the home ownership escalator.”

The Hills report does open a door – he talks about ‘offering’ people who approach the council in housing need and existing tenants ‘alternatives’. Ruth Kelly has pounced on an opportunity. In government language ‘offer’ means force or coerce so she’s trying to fly some kites to whether people (council tenants and MPs) will stomach proposals on means testing the right to a council home; differential rents and/or time limited tenancy agreements. Any attempt to restrict the ‘right to rent’ decent, affordable, secure council housing from an accountable landlord will face massive opposition. It also makes a mockery of the government’s stated aim of creating ‘sustainable communities’. Restricting access to council housing to only the poorest creates distorted and transient communities and denies council tenants the right to a ‘home’ as opposed to somewhere just to temporarily lay our heads down for the night.

Kelly said yesterday this was a start of the debate. One day is quite long enough! Nearly 3 million council tenants across the UK and the 1.6 million households on council housing waiting lists will fight any attempt to reduce our security of tenure and we’re demanding government stop robbing council housing and agree the ‘Fourth Option’ to improve existing and build new council homes.

Professor Hills identified a number of problems with council housing in this report. Contributing to the debate at the LSE Alan Walter, chair of Defend Council Housing, suggested to him that tenant dissatisfaction on repairs could be largely solved if government fully funded council expenditure on management and maintenance (M&M) and dissatisfaction on overcrowding would be solved if more council homes were built. To loud applause Alan Walter invited John Hills to join with tenants and other supporters of council housing in urging the Secretary of State to fund the ‘Fourth Option’ as her own party conference has voted three years running.

Hills kept to his script replying it wasn’t up to him to comment on whether there should be a “first, second, third or fourth option” – that was up to Ministers. The alliance of council tenants, national trade unions, councillors and MPs across parties is waiting.

DCH also met with the Cave Review team at the Department for Communities (DCLG) on Monday to give oral evidence in support of our written submissions and to clarify the aims of the Cave Review into Housing Regulation. We will be discussing how to bring tenants together from around the country to make sure our voice is clearly heard.

See for background information on ‘Fourth Option’ for council housing, No votes against privatisation, press reports, Labour’s conference policy, ‘Ten Questions to Candidates’ in elections for Scottish and Welsh government, local elections and candidates for Labour Party leadership and deputy leadership elections (see back of Dear Gordon: Invest in decent, affordable, secure and accountable council housing pamphlet)