Please show some solidarity…

From the United Voices Of The World Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/events/295822924157524/

The cleaners at HR Owen’s Ferrari and Maserati dealerships in South Kensingon have just voted 100% in favour of strike action.

Join this protest in solidarity with them in the build up to the start of their strike.

For the last 5 years the cleaners – originally from Ecuador – have been cleaning and polishing the Ferrari and Maserati dealerships in South Kensington run by H.R. Owen – Britain’s leading luxury motor dealer, and the world’s largest retailer in Rolls-Royce, Bentley, Lamborghini and Bugatti.

Despite a turnover of around £400 million HR Owen chooses to outsource the cleaners to a company called Templewood where they are condemned, like millions of other workers, to the indignity and impoverishment of the minimum wage.

Furthermore, they have been for years systematically underpaid even the miserable wages they were owed which has led to legal proceedings being instigated against Templewood and HR Owen for unlawful deductions from wages and breach of minimum wage legislation.

Having finally decided enough was enough the cleaners joined UVW and asked for a wage increase from £7.50 per hour to the London Living Wage of £9.75 per hour. However, both Templewood and HR Owen have denied responsibility for setting the cleaners’ rate of pay. This is a common occurrence in the world of outsourcing where the Bermuda-like-triangle between the worker the client and the contractor swallows both employer’s responsibilities and workers’ rights.

Unwilling to entertain Templewood and HR Owen’s excuses or endure the indignity of the minimum wage for any longer the cleaners asked UVW to ballot them for strike action.

Following a 100% Yes vote a strike will commence in October.

Please also consider making a donation to their strike fund if you can – https://www.uvwunion.org.uk/hr-owen/

Advertisements

Falling apart…an update:(

In the latest print edition of the Stirrer, the main feature is about how our local authorities are failing us, the people they’re supposed to serve. The never ending government imposed austerity agenda is one major factor in this. However, there are other factors such as toxic internal cultures which serve to exacerbate external pressures such as austerity. No two local authorities are the same and they all respond in different ways to external pressures. It has to be said that on the anecdotal evidence we’ve heard, Basildon Council has an internal culture that is toxic – this is manifested in the shit way they treat their residents and high levels of staff turnover.

You only have to look back through this blog and you’ll find a fair number of posts where we’re taking Basildon Council to task. Don’t just take our word for it – if you want to read what people at the grassroots are saying about the way Basildon Council are treating them, we recommend that you check out the Vange Hill Community Grouphttps://www.facebook.com/groups/180311358699122/ and Basildon & Southend Housing Actionhttps://www.facebook.com/basacton/

We heard a story of a Basildon resident who worked for the London Borough of Barking & Dagenham but changed jobs and started working at Basildon Council so they could cut down on the commuting. Within a matter of weeks they were on the phone to Barking & Dagenham begging for their old job back because the culture at Basildon was so dysfunctional they couldn’t take any more! We’ve heard another story from the Recovery section at Basildon Council where people are leaving in their droves because they can’t deal with the toxic work environment there and the pressures on them to treat residents like shit.

With a combination of high staff turnover, an all too often hostile attitude towards residents and services such as rubbish collection which on estates such as the ¾ in Vange that can only be described as piss poor, the evidence is mounting up that Basildon Council is falling apart. In the previous post: Admit it…you need us!https://southessexstirrer.wordpress.com/2017/09/20/admit-it-you-need-us/ we listed some of the ways community groups are having to step in and fill the breach while holding the council to account at the same time. Without being over-dramatic, Basildon Council is giving every impression they’re falling apart…

When the state fails to deliver, whether that’s at a national or local level, it has to be seen as an opportunity for grassroots campaigners to step in, not just to hold up failing services but to change the balance of power so we have a considerably bigger say in how our estates and neighbourhoods are managed and develop in the future. Let’s start to take that opportunity, not just in Basildon but anywhere where the state is failing, get power down to the grassroots and start to bring about some real change…

Admit it…you need us!

In an age of seemingly never ending austerity, council services are under ever growing strain and in a growing number of instances, they’re failing. Working with groups such as Basildon & Southend Housing Action (BASHA) and the Vange Hill Community Group (VHCG), it’s all too clear that services such as rubbish collection and estate maintenance are in crisis. On a fair few occasions, BASHA and VHCG have had to step into the breach to undertake activities such as neighbourhood clean ups, educating residents on rubbish disposal (nigh on impossible when Basildon Council don’t have a rubbish disposal protocol!) and setting up community gardens.

BASHA, and now VHCG, are not stepping into the breach just to cover the failings of Basildon Council – they’re doing it because they care passionately about their communities. Recent clean ups they’ve undertaken include Gambleside on the ¾ estate in Vange: Doing it for ourselves (because no one else will!)https://southessexstirrer.wordpress.com/2017/08/22/doing-it-for-ourselves-because-no-one-else-will/ and the Pattocks on the Red Brick Estate: Cleaning up the Pattockshttps://southessexstirrer.wordpress.com/2017/08/31/cleaning-up-the-pattocks/

Interestingly, in the case of the Pattocks clean up, BASHA were invited by the estate manager to come along to offer their expertise to the clean up she initiated. If that level of co-operation between council officers who know they don’t have the resources to do the job they need to do and community groups could spread, it really would make a world of difference. This wouldn’t just be to the physical appearance of the estates but also the empowerment of community action groups who want to make a meaningful contribution to the running and maintenance of their neighbourhoods.

Sadly, as things stand at the moment, far from co-operation and a constructive working relationship, BASHA and VHCG find they’re dealing with council officers who all too often, are less than helpful. The ongoing saga of dealing with a dysfunctional rubbish collection ‘service’ on the ¾ estate is just one example of where it feels that council officers are hampering efforts to clean up the estate and educate residents on rubbish disposal protocol. BASHA’s efforts to effectively carry out clean up days have been frustrated by issues with permissions to dispose of what they’ve collected at Essex County Council waste disposal facilities.

On the surface, Basildon Council’s new Pride Teams sound like a constructive idea to start to turn round issues with the neglect of estates and public spaces: Pride Teams start transforming neighbourhoodshttp://www.basildonstandard.co.uk/news/15515108.Pride_Teams_start_transforming_neighbourhoods/ The problem is we’ve heard it on good authority that the Pride Teams know they’re overstretched and cannot do the job they’ve been set up to do with the limited resources they’ve got. This could be the perfect opportunity for them to reach out to community groups and work in partnership with them to start to turn the estates around.

However, this will mean Basildon Council admitting they can’t do the job themselves and relinquishing a degree of control. From BASHA’s previous dealings with the council, it’s abundantly clear that the one thing they hate doing is relinquishing control. So we have a bit of an impasse…for the moment… The point is that as community groups step into the breach more and more to deal with the failures of local government, it return for this, they have to be given a meaningful say in how their estates and neighbourhoods are managed and developed for the future. Nothing less than that is acceptable…

The truth…


Working with both Basildon & Southend Housing Action and the Vange Hill Community Group on the troubled Vange ¾ estate which is located on the southern fringes of Basildon, one of the problems we face is that of tenure. When the right to buy came in, a fair number of tenants brought their homes. However, since then, too many of these homes have been flogged off to buy to let landlords. A heck of a lot of these landlords are scumbags, neglecting their properties while cramming in as many tenants as they can get away with.

Properties with six or more occupants are not uncommon – these are termed ‘houses of multiple occupation’ (HMOs). All too often, the tenancies in HMOs are on short term leases so there’s always a churn in the population. Because the tenants are on short term leases and likely to move on within a year, landlords feel they can get away with the bare minimum of maintenance. Basically, a lot of HMOs are slums…

It’s the buy to let landlords running HMOs that have played a major role in bringing the ¾ estate down to where it is today. They have no sense of responsibility to the community they operate in. They’re the ones responsible for undermining the sense of community on the estate, creating a feeling of atomisation, mistrust and fear. All they’re interested in is lining their pockets. To those who say that private landlords have a role to play in solving the housing crisis, we say you’re deluded. These landlords are parasites and need to be dealt with as such…

We’re recruiting…

This is our tongue in cheek recruitment poster which we’ll be displaying on the joint South Essex Radical Media / Basildon & Southend Housing Action stall at the London Anarchist Bookfair which is taking place on Saturday 28th October – http://anarchistbookfair.org.uk/ Yes, we know that as anarchists, we’re not supposed to be into ‘recruitment’, however, needs must as there’s a lot happening along the estuary that needs dealing with and at the moment, we haven’t got enough people to deal with it! Also, as we’ve previously mentioned, it’s tongue in cheek and reflects the irreverent way we operate:)

Fighting back

This is for the attention of those people under the illusion that migrant workers will happily undercut the wages of British workers – we’ve news for you, they won’t. In fact, they’re increasingly putting themselves on the front line in the fight for decent pay and conditions – something that will benefit all of us, regardless of where we’re from…

From the United Voices of the World Union – https://www.facebook.com/uvwunion/

CLEANERS TO START INDEFINITE STRIKE FOR A LIVING WAGE AT FERRARI & MASERATI CAR DEALERHIPS IN SOUTH KENSINGTON

Say hello to Freddy and Angelica, the inspiring husband and wife duo from Ecuador who, for the last 5 years, have been cleaning and polishing the Ferrari and Maserati dealerships in South Kensington run by H.R. Owen – Britain’s leading luxury motor dealer, and the world’s largest retailer in Rolls-Royce, Bentley, Lamborghini and Bugatti.

Despite a turnover of around £400 million HR Owen chooses to outsource the cleaners to a company call Templewood where they are condemned, like millions of other workers, to the indignity and impoverishment of the minimum wage.

Furthermore, the cleaners have for years been systematically underpaid even the miserable wages they were owed which has led to legal proceedings being instigated against Templewood and HR Owen for unlawful deductions from wages and breach of minimum wage legislation.

Having finally decided enough was enough the cleaners joined UVW and asked for a wage increase from £7.50 per hour to the London Living Wage of £9.75 per hour. However, both Templewood and HR Owen have denied responsibility for setting the cleaners’ rate of pay. This is a common occurrence in the world of outsourcing where the Bermuda-like-triangle between the worker the client and the contractor swallows both employer’s responsibilities and workers’ rights.

Unwilling to entertain Templewood and HR Owen’s excuses or endure the indignity of the minimum wage for any longer, Freddy and Angelica asked UVW to ballot them for strike action.

Following a Yes vote an indefinite strike is expected to commence on 9th October.

Unlike at the LSE University where UVW recently organised over 70 cleaners to walk out on strike, making it then the largest cleaners’ strike in UK history, Freddy and Angelica work alone at HR Owen’s Ferrari and Maserati dealerships.

There being only two of them would lead many people to argue that there was nothing they could do about their situation, that the company will never listen or concede to them, especially as they are non-English speaking migrant cleaners.

Well, at UVW we don’t care if you have one colleague or a 100 colleagues. If you’re on the minimum wage or suffer from any other form of injustice and are fed up and up for a fight we’ll ballot and back you all the way.

Furthermore, when Freddy and Angelica win they will lift hundreds of other outsourced workers at HR Owen off the minimum wage and out of in-work poverty.

To support Freddy and Angelica please make a donation to their strike fund if you can – https://www.uvwunion.org.uk/hr-owen/

Continued Development Necessary, for Canvey Island to Thrive Economically and Socially, despite the Hazards!

In the latest print edition of the Stirrer, the lead story is an esst to west tour highlighting how each local authority in the area we cover is out of touch with the people they serve. As part of this tour, we stopped off at Castle Point to draw attention to the way they continually ignore the concerns of the people of Canvey Island about over-development. The constraints of print meant we could only devote a short paragraph to highlighting this issue. This blog post goes into considerably greater depth as to why Canvey Island cannot take any more housing development. We’re not NIMBYs and realise that houses have to be built but not on an island that’s a) below high tide level and b) has hazards in the form of petro-chemical storage facilities…

Canvey Green Belt Campaign

Is there a point where it becomes inconsiderate, down right fool-hardy or plain morally wrong, to Plan to continually increase the population of Canvey Island?

Or have we already reached the stage where Castle Point Council’s policies have left the Island over populated?

Currently the policy of Castle Point Council is clear, it intends to continue to develop Housing and Business properties on the Island as a necessity as, “it is considered that continued development is necessary in order that the settlement of Canvey can continue to thrive economically and socially.”

Canvey Island, as all residents, prospective and current, should know, is at Actual Risk of Tidal Flooding, suffers from Surface Water Flooding and is home to 2 Top Tier COMAH sites, Oikos and Calor.

In addition to this OIKOS have permission to expand its facilities having had this proposal approved; Construction of a new deep water jetty facility consisting of…

View original post 928 more words

The Truth about Grenfell Tower: A Report by Architects for Social Housing

This is an incredibly long read but if you want a forensic examination of the systemic failures that led to the Grenfell Tower disaster, this is the place to go…

architectsforsocialhousing

A PDF file of this report is available here: The Truth about Grenfell Tower

On Thursday, 22 June, 2017, in response to the Grenfell Tower fire the previous week, Architects for Social Housing held an open meeting in the Residents Centre of Cotton Gardens estate in Lambeth. Around 80 people turned up and contributed to the discussion – residents, housing campaigners, journalists, lawyers, academics, engineers and architects. Below is an edited film of the meeting made for us by Line Nikita Woolfe, with the assistance of Luc Beloix on camera and additional footage by Dan Davies, and is produced by her company Woolfe Vision. The presentations we gave that evening are the basis of this report, to which we have added our subsequent research as well as that collated from the numerous articles on the Grenfell Tower fire published in the press and elsewhere, to which we have attached…

View original post 28,663 more words

A demolition of Thurrock Council’s tenant tax

Thurrock Council are desperately trying to defend their imposition of what has been dubbed the ‘tenant tax’: You were told: Thurrock Council boss defends decision over new service chargeshttp://www.yourthurrock.com/2017/09/05/told-thurrock-council-defend-decision-new-service-charges/ Despite all of their bluster and front, it’s pretty clear the extra charges are being imposed in order to make up for the continuing and growing shortfall of money from central government. Mind you, a Tory run council is never going to admit they’re being screwed over by a Tory government so the bluster will continue.

A lot of people can see straight through the bullshit coming from Thurrock Council. A local blogger, Valen (Myles) Cook, has written what can best be a forensic demolition of Thurrock Council’s attempts to defend the tenant tax: Destroying the defence of Thurrock Council’s ‘service charges’http://valen1971.blogspot.co.uk/2017/09/destroying-defence-of-thurrock-councils.html Trust us, it’s well worth reading and sharing…

The lessons of history have not been learnt!

In a period of stagnating and declining incomes, zero hours contracts and rising food prices, what do Thurrock Council try to foist on their struggling tenants? The ‘Tenant Top-Up Tax’ which is a charge for lift maintenance, door entry systems communal heating and lighting, and grounds maintenance. See here for the full story in the Thurrock Gazette: Thurrock residents outraged at ‘tenant top-up tax’ bill as petition receives more than 500 signatureshttps://tinyurl.com/ybty248o

If you think that’s an imposition on struggling tenants, it seems that the tax will also apply to the verges outside of tenants’ homes. Cllr. Luke Spillman (Aveley & Uplands) had this to say on the issue: “Having contacted the council today it has been confirmed that the council intend to extend the full charge to detached, semi-detached and terraced council homes if they have a grass verge outside their property. I couldn’t quite believe it when it was confirmed. It is beyond reason that this Conservative administration could have signed this off. I and many members will be asking some very searching questions at full council. I am also meeting with the directors of housing on Thursday. If the council haven’t accepted how poorly judged this decision is by full council then I’ll be amazed.”

It seems that the hapless Tories running the borough have managed to unite Labour and UKIP councillors in opposition to a tax that is being imposed on tenants without any consultation. This shows just how out of touch the Tories are if they think tenants struggling to make ends meet are going to be able to come up with up to an extra £400 a year just like that. The Tories knew they would struggle to get this through a full meeting of the council so they sneaked it through in a cabinet meeting instead. As if it was needed, this is yet more proof about how arrogant, out of touch and dysfunctional the local authorities who are supposed to be our servants, not our masters are!

Now this sneak move has well and truly come out into the open, it’ll be interesting to see how long it lasts before it’s ditched. Remember, the hated Poll Tax was defeated by a mass campaign of non-payment: 27 years ago today…https://southessexstirrer.wordpress.com/2017/03/31/27-years-ago-today/ So the question is – have the Tories learnt anything from the lessons of history or will they need a refresher course?