Friday, 12 November 2010

Snouts and troughs?

What with our struggle over the removal of Family Friendly policies still unresolved at NHHG the following articles are of particular interest. This year the group also posted an increased surplus, up to £8.1 million from £5.9 million the previous year.

If Miss Davies agrees with her partner that the sum of £310,000 is 'not really a lot' then perhaps she might like to revisit her decision to remove NHHG's family friendly policies? In terms of overall value the slight cost of them would seem like the bargain of the century in comparrison.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010


The first of a week-long series of Lunchtime Lobbies of Notting Hill Housing Trust’s (NHHT) head office got of to a rousing start yesterday. UNISON members shared lunch with many of their non-union colleagues whilst protesting at senior management’s continuing refusal to negotiate on the new terms and conditions that they have imposed.

“It’s very encouraging to see non-union members supporting UNISON’s campaign to defend Family Friendly Policies at Notting Hill Housing Trust”, said UNISON Regional Organiser, Colin Inniss. “It contradicts the Trust’s claim that most members of staff are happy with imposed change. Unison’s campaign will continue until the Trust realises that cutting family-friendly benefits demoralises staff and has a negative impact on service delivery”.

UNISON’s dispute with Notting Hill Housing Trust is now in its third month. A day of strike action was taken on 15th March; further strike action is planned for May. In an effort to resolve the dispute, UNISON has referred it to ACAS for mediation.

Lunch Time Lobbies - Photos from Tuesday

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Lunchtime Lobbies

Every day this week UNISON members be holding lunchtime lobbies outside of the main Notting Hill office. The address is 1 Butterwick (Rear of Metro Building) Hammersmith W68DL. These lobbies will be a peaceful but visible protest against Notting Hill Housing's continued reluctance to take part in meaningful discussions around the controversial withdrawal of paid carers leave and flexi time.

The lobbies will take place every day this week between 12 and 2pm so please come along and offer your support.

Monday, 3 May 2010


A cost-cutting proposal presented by UNISON to Notting Hill Housing Trust (NHHT) has been rejected by the Trust’s Board. Additional meetings with NHHT’s Corporate Management Team have also ended without any agreement being reached.

The Trust’s Chief Executive, Kate Davies, has ruled out any further concessions on the changes to the terms and conditions that were imposed on all staff, without UNISON’s agreement, on 1st March,

The Trust’s cuts to terms and conditions have completely removed paid carers’ leave and flexitime for all staff. Redeployment pay protections and relocation allowances have also been cut by 75%.

UNISON, Regional Organiser, Colin Inniss, said: “The Trust’s Chief Executive, Kate Davies, expressed an opinion that these cuts to terms and conditions do not go far enough. That is a frightening concept for all of our members and one which should also worry tenants. Management by imposition demoralises a workforce and leaves UNISON with no other alternative than to continue our dispute with NHHT.

This will involve a series of Lunchtime lobbies of the Trust’s Head Office in Hammersmith’s followed by 2 days of industrial action.

UNISON has consistently stated that the solution to this dispute is not through imposition but by reaching a negotiated agreement which addresses the real concerns of NHHT’s skilled and committed employees. UNISON will be seeking the assistance of ACAS in reaching a reasonable agreement with NHHT. Only such an agreement can prevent further industrial action.”

For further info please see UNISON's Housing branch website and John's Labour Blog

Thursday, 1 April 2010


On Tuesday night Tooting MP Sadiq Khan, who is Minister of Transport and an UNISON member held a reception for local trade union members, Labour party supporters and constituents at the Atlee Room in the House of Commons.

There was a really good turn out with over 150 people attending. London UNISON Labour link sponsored the refreshments. Sadiq had invited Deputy Leader Harriet Harman MP, Home Secretary Alan Johnson MP and Youth Minister Dawn Butler MP as guest speakers.
John Gray was there as Vice-Chair of the London UNISON Labour Link committee and had brought with him two UNISON members from Notting Hill Housing Trust who had been on Strike earlier this month. Strike action is unheard of in our traditionally moderate sector yet members voted 93% in favour to protest at their treatment by the CEO who is trying to destroy family friendly policies at Notting Hill and slash basic staff terms and conditions while paying herself obscene amounts of money and perks (such as £11,000 per year car allowance).

This event followed on from last months successful meetings with Housing Minister John Healey and the reception given by Karen Buck MP (Westminster North) and Glenda Jackson MP (Hampstead and Highgate) at the House of Commons for UNISON members living in their constituencies. At this event both MPs had private discussions with the Strikers and will contacting Notting Hill senior management. The impact of these changes on the mainly female workforce was of major concern.Also at the reception was veteran Labour MP Dennis Skinner who also met up with the strikers and gave a cracking speech on the importance of the Labour movement for ordinary working people. Former MP and current Head of Diversity at Channel 4 Oona King was also had a meeting and was very supportive. Future lobbies are being planned with London Assembly members and Council leaders. There was a Q&A after each speech. John asked a question of Harriet and Alan about the situation at Notting Hill and the attacks by its management on equalities. We will be contacting their Parliamentary offices later today with follow up information.

We also discussed the issue with Sadiq (one of the Strikers is also his constituent) who also agreed to contact the organisation once we brief him properly.

On Monday we learnt from NHHT senior management that its Board have apparently “refused” to even let UNISON speak to them about its concerns and that they support the boycott of requests for mediation with ACAS! If this is true then you have to question why the NHHT Board is apparently so precious that they are not even willing to even listen to their own workforce express concerns that they are being discriminated against and exploited by their senior management. This is amazing and can only further damage the reputation and image of the wider sector in the eyes of many people.

Monday, 29 March 2010

No progress as yet

As yet there has been no real progress concerning talks with NHHT. UNISON Organiser Colin Innis reports ‘CMT cannot make an exact decision on agreeing to meaningful negotiation without first speaking to the Board. Inexplicably - despite the fact that we are in the midst of a major dispute – CMT appears to be unable to speak to its Board outside of a Board meeting. Thus no high level decision on negotiation will be made until after Monday’s (29/03) Board meeting. I am scheduled to meet again with CMT on either Tuesday or Wednesday of next week.’

Whilst UNISON and its members remain optimistic about the prospect of future discussions there is growing frustration due to the time that it is taking for talks to materialise. We will keep you posted on all future developments.

You may also be interested to read this highly informative piece by Guardian contributor Dave Hill .

Monday, 22 March 2010

Breaking News...

Notting Hill Housing Trust has agreed to meet with UNISON representatives (led by Colin Inniss - Regional Organiser) on 25 March 2010. This follows a very successful day of action by UNISON members at NHHT on 15 March 2010, with well attended picket lines outside NHHT headquarters in Hammersmith and Presentation offices in Vauxhall. It is our sincere hope that management will now approach negotiations with an open mind and attempt to reach agreement with UNISON members at NHHT. We will keep you posted

Friday, 19 March 2010

CIPD press release

CIPD survey shows workers as likely to have caring responsibilities for a partner, relative, and friend as they are for children, highlighting growing demand for flexibility at work

A survey of 2,000 employees by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) shows workers are as likely to have caring responsibilities for a partner, relative, and friend as they are for children. Focus on Caring at Work finds a third (34%) of employees have some form of caring responsibilities, with 20% citing children. However, 12% cite relatives, 6% their partner, and 2% a friend.

And the survey also shows there is little difference between the sexes in their caring responsibilities, with 36% of women citing caring responsibilities and 33% of men.

Ben Willmott, CIPD senior public policy adviser, says: "The survey highlights the challenges many employees have in managing what are often a range of caring responsibilities. The proportion of people having to balance work while caring for their partner or spouse, parents, and other relatives will increase as life expectancy continues to rise and as people work longer to save for retirement.

"This is why the CIPD is calling for the right to request flexible working to be extended to all employees, rather than just parents, by 2013. This is not about employers putting the interests of employees before the business, it is just about them seriously considering whether they can accommodate flexible working requests in order to recruit and retain a diverse workforce."

Focusing purely on childcare, 72% of mothers and 43% of fathers have changed how or where they work to play a more active role in their children's upbringing. Of these:

• Almost a third of working parents (31%) report they have worked flexibly to become more active parents
• Twenty-eight per cent have worked shorter hours and 23% have worked from home
• However, sixteen per cent have gone as far as changing their jobs to become a more active parent

Willmott continues: "The survey suggests that the majority of employers are already providing flexible working options to allow working parents to play an active role in the upbringing of their children. Employers that don't provide flexible working options for working parents risk losing valuable employees.

"However, our survey also indicates that employees with other caring responsibilities such as aging or sick parents and partners will increasingly expect the same sort of work-life balance opportunities as working parents."

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Friday, 12 March 2010

Members Meet Minister

On Tuesday 9th March government Housing Minister John Healey met with UNISON Labour Link members including a delegation from Notting Hill Housing Trust. Mr Healey fielded several questions around impending strike action at Notting Hill and was visibly concerned when told of the plight of members working at the trust. Mr Healey was alarmed to hear about the lack of consultation, removal of flexible working and paid carers leave. He emphasised the fundamental importance of employers treating their workers with respect and wished Notting Hill staff good luck in their efforts to be heard. The Notting Hill delegates were heartened to hear the words of support offered by the minister and are glad that he will be monitoring the situation very closely.

Message of support from Dave Prentis - UNISON General Secretary

I would like to offer my full support and solidarity to UNISON members in Notting Hill Housing Trust who are taking strike action on Monday.

Our members in housing associations like Notting Hill work incredibly hard, often for inadequate reward, across the country to provide vital public services in our communities. Notting Hill’s treatment of its own workforce is scandalous – cutting family-friendly benefits which to you are vital, and which don’t cost the organisation much at all.

Notting Hill clearly don’t recognise the clear link between how they treat their staff and the quality of service they provide – or if they do recognise that link, they don’t appear to care about either their staff or their tenants.

Either way, all UNISON has asked for from the beginning has been to sit down with Notting Hill and try to reach an agreement that everyone can sign up to. They have refused all along.

So I salute our members in Notting Hill, who are taking a very brave step, standing up for what they think is right.

I wish you the best of luck.

Monday, 8 March 2010

UNISON National Housing Forum 03/03/10

The UNISON National Housing Forum met on 3 March 2010. It represents housing workers from across the UK, based in local authorities, ALMOS and Housing Associations. The forum was updated on the dispute at Notting Hill Housing Trust, including the reasons for the dispute and the recent resounding ballot result. It expressed its strong support for UNISON members at NHHT and wished them success in their forthcoming industrial action. Forum members were told about the proposed strike date of 15 March 2010 and those who are able to would like to support the picket lines on the day. Forum members have asked to be kept updated and for any Branch bulletins about the industrial action to be forwarded to them via UNISON national officers. They were also provided with details of the blog/twitter feed where up to date information can be found and were asked to contribute to the letter writing campaign to Kate Davies.

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Mass Meeting - Friday 26th Febuary - Feedback

Sorry I cannot attend this meeting. The ballot result is fantastic and has shown that UNISON members at NHHT are firm in their resolve. This turnout and vote should bring a reasonable employer back to the negotiating table. If NHHT will not be reasonable you have shown that you are a force to be reckoned with. Fellow UNISON members have been sending messages of support and word is getting around other housing associations. (Do keep an eye on the blog and twitter feed). What is happening now at NHHT may happen at other workplaces in the coming months. We should all be grateful for the efforts of UNISON members at Notting Hill. Good Luck - Letter from UNISON Branch Secretary

There was a mass meeting of Notting Hill members on Friday 26 February at the Irish Cultural Centre in Hammersmith. The meeting was very well attended and the speakers positively recieved.
Members voted unanimously for a one day strike on Monday 15 March. UNISON is encouraging staff at Notting Hill to join UNISON and take part in the action. The branch will be issuing advice to members wishing to show solidarity with the Notting Hill members.
Read here for press coverage of the dispute:

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Time for Action at Notting Hill Housing Trust – Strike Ballot Result

UNISON members at Notting Hill Housing Trust (NHHT) have voted in favour of strike action. The ballot result was declared on 22 February 2010 and follows a long process of trying to negotiate with the employer. On a 56.6% turnout, 93.5% of UNISON members voted to strike. UNISON is the leading union representing workers employed in Housing Associations. In London, these UNISON members are part of a dedicated Housing Associations Branch.

During the ballot period, UNISON members at NHHT have received messages of support from UNISON members in other London housing associations, other UNISON branches and other unions. In addition delegations of NHHT UNISON members will be meeting with local politicians, both councillors and MPs. A letter writing campaign to NHHT Chief Executive (Kate Davies) has also taken place.
UNISON has written to the Tenant Services Agency and the Homes and Communities Agency to express its concern about the employer’s high handed attitude to its work force.

Messages of support can be sent to and to

The ballot for strike action has arisen from NHHT imposing cuts to terms and conditions of employment which will have a negative effect on female staff with caring responsibilities (reducing carers’ leave and ending flexi-time). The employer’s own equality impact assessment has acknowledged this but the changes are going ahead anyway. Carers’ leave cost the organisation £30,000 in 2008 which is a small fraction of the Chief Executive’s current salary. Her most recently published salary is £165,868 (2008/2009) which was a 7% increase on the previous year and included a bonus of just under £11,000.

Strike action is very much the last resort. The NHHT Board has previously ignored a 300+ signature petition from staff, a 95% consultative ballot vote in favour of further action by UNISON members and a request to meet with ACAS. There does not appear to be any desire to negotiate by the employer.

Unison Housing Associations Branch Secretary, Mary Powell states “It is highly unusual for UNISON members in London housing associations to take industrial action, however NHHT has left its staff with little choice. The ballot result is clear. The Branch and its wider membership are four square behind UNISON members at NHHT. The employer does still however have an opportunity to return to the negotiating table so long as they genuinely want to reach an agreement”

UNISON HA Branch Meeting - Support for members at Notting Hill

Members at the branch annual general meeting sent a message of support and solidarity to Notting Hill members. Speaker Richard McEwan from Tower Hamlets UCU inspired members with his description of the successful campaign against cuts to services and jobs at Tower Hamlets college.

Members held a mass meeting and walked out at the start of a three month campaign to prevent job cuts and protect services. Over 1000 people took part in a demonstration in support of the action. Union members contacted local community organisations and ran a co-ordinated escalating action. The campaign was boosted by the messages of support and the generosity of the local community and other trade union branches

Friday, 19 February 2010

Flexi Time Lowers Stress

Read here for a piece by the Northern Echo on how a study by Durham University demonstrates the positive effects of flexible working.

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Attacks on terms and conditions at Notting Hill Housing

UNISON members at Notting Hill Housing Trust are now voting on INDUSTRIAL ACTION. They need your support.

Management has IMPOSED CUTS to flexitime and carers’ leave which will have most effect on female staff with caring responsibilities. Further reductions in terms and conditions include a reduction in salary protection following re-organisation and cuts to relocation expenses. This is at a time when re-organisation and office relocation are anticipated.

Management has REFUSED TO NEGOTIATE WITH UNISON, despite a petition signed by over 300 staff. They have also REFUSED TO WORK WITH ACAS. Now UNISON is balloting members on industrial action. Already members have voted in a consultative ballot – 95% in favour of further action.

In 2009 Kate Davies, Chief Executive at Notting Hill Housing Trust, chaired a group of “experts” who produced a report for Conservative Party think tank the Centre for Social Justice. This body is headed by Iain Duncan Smith and supported by David Cameron. The report recommended ending secure and assured tenancies.

Notting Hill Housing Trust Chairman Paul Hodgkinson is also a Trustee of Parenting UK which promotes family friendly policies. This is ironic considering the family unfriendly policies being imposed on his staff at Notting Hill.

UNISON members must make a stand at Notting Hill Housing Trust – other housing associations and housing support services in London are also threatening to impose cuts to terms and conditions e.g. increasing the working week whilst freezing salaries, representing real terms pay cuts.

Read here for a message of support from popular Labour Party blogger and activist John Grey
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