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Posted on 15 May 2013 at 17:28 GMT

Protesters demand Waltham Forest council rejects blacklisting companies

Kevin Parslow (Unite LE1228 Branch Secretary), personal capacity

Unite the union took its blacklisting campaign to the London Borough of Waltham Forest on 15 May. The borough has contracts with firms that are linked to the Consulting Association which kept lists of blacklisted construction workers: Kier and Royal BAM. The Unite members were also sending a message to the firm May Gurney, that while denying any blacklisting, is being taken over by Kier.

Kier and BAM are also involved in Crossrail, where Frank Morris remains sacked after months of campaigning against the dismissal of 28 electricians.

Unite is demanding that councils ban these companies from tendering for such contracts and that they set up meetings between councils, unions and these companies where contracts are already in operation.

Unite and its supporters, including local Socialist Party members, were protesting outside the town hall, but were constantly hassled by council officials while exercising their democratic rights, who even called out the council's notorious 'Enforcement' team.

This is the council department that has tried to prevent sales of The Socialist in the High Street, where we have had years of a regular presence.

The enforcement team tried to get the protest stopped, claimed we were too noisy, demanded that Unite's blacklisting rat (an inflatable one) was deflated - claiming that no 'structures' were allowed, and took down placards and flags.

In negotiations with Unite's Organising and Leverage team, they kept waving sheets of paper claiming that council 'by-laws' prevented protesting other than in a limited area and quietly.

Labour hostility

Undeterred, the protest continued for an hour before dispersing to the notes of 'Solidarity Forever'! What disgusted the Unite team was that, having had protests outside the offices of the above companies and West End hotels and not had any real objections from the police or officials of these bodies, that they should go to a Labour council and receive such a disgraceful reception.

This was despite Unite having written to all the councillors explaining what they would do.

Waltham Forest Socialist Party members are, unfortunately, all too aware of Waltham Forest council's cuts and anti-democracy record.

The council fears protests against its unpopular policies, so it tries to limit them. The Socialist Party will continue these protests with all unions, but is also part of the local TUSC body (Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition) campaigning to stand in all seats in the borough-wide elections next year.

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