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Archive for September, 2013

Labour leader, Ed Miliband, has confounded his critics – especially in the Tory press – with a speech at the Labour Party Conference that resonated far beyond his audience in Brighton. While I may have my differences with certain elements in the Tower Hamlets Labour Party, who have by the national party’s own admittance ‘not exactly covered themselves in glory’, in recent years, like many in London I want to see Ed Miliband as the next Prime Minister. This week many of us will have seen him as the next Prime Minister in waiting.

Here in Tower Hamlets we have led the way in bringing in the Living Wage, restoring the Education Maintenance Allowance, along with grants for students and free school meals. We have also introduced a Tower Hamlets Energy Co-op. So I was delighted that Ed Miliband promised that the next Labour Government would legislate for many of these policies on a national scale. In particular his decision to take on the energy corporations is as courageous as it is absolutely necessary. For too long these corporate giants have got away with exorbitant prices and price hikes, so for Ed Miliband to pledge a freeze on price rises for twenty months if Labour wins the next General Election is a very good development indeed. The response by some of the energy companies demonstrates that they have power without responsibility. It is absurd for them to claim that this very sensible planned intervention could ‘put out the lights’. The public are well aware that this is simple scaremongering on their part. Nor will the public be much impressed if those same energy giants suddenly increase prices to the consumer prior to the General Election.

Ed Miliband is showing that he is on the side of the ordinary person. He is strong in taking on the powerful, while David Cameron is weak in taking on the powerful. That difference has become a whole lot clearer in Brighton this week and throughout the country as a whole.

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Press Release
From the Office of the Mayor of Tower Hamlets

Mayor Lutfur Rahman today announced that Tower Hamlets will be the first Local Authority in the UK to pledge not to award contracts to any company found guilty of blacklisting workers.

Mayor Lutfur Rahman said:

“Tower Hamlets was the first Council to introduce the London Living Wage in 2009 and we take the welfare and well-being of working people very seriously. I am very grateful to the GMB, Unite the Union and UCATT for bringing the issue of blacklisting to the nation’s attention and I am proud to say that not only does Tower Hamlets not have any contracts with the companies accused of this practice, but that on my watch it never will.”

The practice of blacklisting workers was brought to prominence by the GMB who published a list of companies using a network of private investigators to compile databases of workers
perceived as union activists or agitators. Companies then used the clandestine database to run illegal background checks and deny work to those perceived as union activists or agitators.

Commenting on Mayor Rahman’s pledge, GMB General Secretary Paul Kenny said:

“The GMB is delighted that Tower Hamlets is the first council in Britain to run the blacklisters right out of town. Where Mayor Rahman has led, others will now surely follow and those companies guilty of blacklisting workers will get no more of the public contracts they crave until they own up, clean up and pay up for what they did to their 3,213 victims.”

Steve Murphy, General Secretary of Construction Union UCATT, said:

“Tower Hamlets has a long and proud tradition of standing up for the rights of workers. UCATT congratulates Mayor Lutfur Rahman and Tower Hamlets council on extending that tradition with this anti-blacklisting pledge. It is now incumbent on all other local authorities to follow Tower Hamlets lead and stamp blacklisting out once and for all.”

Len McCluskey, General Secretary of Unite the Union said:

“Tower Hamlets is blazing a trail by becoming the first London council to stamp out blacklisting. This is a fantastic development and we commend the council for their positive action. There is a momentum growing to outlaw blacklisting. Recently the Welsh government announced that public sector bodies in Wales can exclude blacklisters from bidding for public sector contracts. The unions are also making real progress in bringing blacklisters to justice.

“We are urging other councils to take note of the Tower Hamlets decision to ban the blacklisters and to follow suit.”

“Unite and the TUC are calling on blacklisters to ‘Own Up, Clean Up and Pay Up’. Blacklisting employers should immediately stop defending legal cases on technicalities, apologise to blacklisted workers and their families and sign up with Unite specific agreements that prevent new cases of blacklisting.

“The proof of the pudding will be whether blacklisters are ready to employ workers they have discriminated against.”

Ends

Notes to Editors

The Mayor ‘s pledge on blacklisting appears below;
THE PLEDGE

Blacklisting is an unlawful practice, which unscrupulous employers use to avoid having trade unionists in the workforce.

Trade unionists have a vital role in any workforce for the very reason that blacklisting employers seek to exclude them: they stand up for workers’ rights. As a result of blacklisting, workers cannot find employment and their families suffer a terrible injustice.

We have trade unionists to thank for the 35 hour week, lunch breaks, paid sick leave and holiday pay among other conditions that we take for granted.

The council values the rights of its employees, and is against any move to curb workers’ representation.

The GMB, Unite the Union and UCATT have undertaken extremely important work in highlighting this issue on the national stage, and compiling a comprehensive list of companies that employ this disgraceful practice.

I am pleased that, having cross-referenced this list with our own list of contractors and suppliers, I can say that the council has no relationship with any of them.

And I am pleased to follow the Welsh Assembly’s lead in being the first local authority nationwide to pledge to take action against blacklisting. Under no circumstances is it acceptable for any business in receipt of our procurement expenditure to use blacklists.

For information about this press release contact Numan Hussain , Political Advisor to the Mayor , on 07508 352 023 or email numan.hussain@towerhamlets.gov.uk

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Remembering 9/11

The names of the three thousand victims of the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center in New York, are being read out today to mark the twelfth anniversary.

It is worth recalling that the victims included people from all walks of life, many nationalities and many faiths. The attack on the World Trade Center changed history; the war in Iraq and the continuing conflict in Afghanistan can trace their beginnings to that one terrible event. So today is also the day when we should remember the casualties of all wars and hope that the terrible civil war raging in Syria can be ended through diplomacy rather than through yet more war and destruction.

In recalling the innocent people who lost their lives on 9/11, we should never forget the role played by the emergency services, the fire-fighters and the New York Police Department on that terrible day. Their often heroic role reminds me why it is so important to continue to fight attempts to cut back vital public services here and why we need to re-double our efforts to tell Mayor Boris Johnson that cuts cost lives.

I’m grateful to readers for pointing out a typographical error that suggested I was advocating more war and destruction in Syria.

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PRESS RELEASE

From the Office of the Mayor of Tower Hamlets ‬

‪For immediate release – 9th September 2013  ‬

‪TOWER HAMLETS MAYOR PREPARES LEGAL CHALLENGE OVER BORIS’ UNAFFORDABLE RENTS

‘BORIS JOHNSON IS OUT OF TOUCH’, SAYS LUTFUR RAHMAN

‪Tower Hamlets mayor Lutfur Rahman has attacked Boris Johnson for unleashing crippling rent increases on poor Londoners, and revealed that the council is preparing for a judicial review of the policy.‬

‪Despite an attempt by opposition groups to defeat the proposals, the London Plan cleared the London Assembly on 3 September, setting the ‘affordable’ rent benchmark at a staggering 80% of the market rate.‬

‪Tower Hamlets Mayor Lutfur Rahman, who was part of the coalition of 9 left-wing council leaders that wrote to the Assembly pleading that the controversial plans be dropped, has indicated that the borough is looking at joining with other councils, including Islington, to challenge the decision in the courts.‬

‪Mayor Lutfur Rahman said:

“Boris, you are out of touch and you have failed Londoners.‬

‪“We told you that 80% of the market rate is totally unaffordable for ordinary residents in Tower Hamlets.‬

‪“Given that you have not listened, I have instructed lawyers to prepare the ground for a judicial review of this devastating decision.”‬

(more…)

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