Socialist Worker

Tower Hamlets Homeless Persons Unit workers protest during opening of new office

Issue No. 2052

Workers protesting outside the new Homeless Persons Unit

Workers protesting outside the new Homeless Persons Unit

The opening of a new Homeless Persons Unit on Roman Road in Tower Hamlets, east London, on Monday 21 May was delayed for hours as council staff protested outside.

They are angry that the lack of screens in the reception office poses a potential risk to staff.

John McLoughlin, branch chair of the Unison union, told the rallying workers 'This is an act of solidarity because we don't believe that anyone should be placed in a potentially dangerous position.

'But it is also to show that we are in solidarity with the homeless. Government and council policies – in selling off council housing stock and failing to build adequate decent, secure, affordable housing leaves many people desperate.

'No wonder they get angry, when a government that spends billions bombing homes elsewhere won't spend money on homes here, and that in a small minoroty of cases that anger leads to violent incidents. But why should it be ordinary Council workers on the receiving end. Let the government ministers who make the policies be the ones to face the anger. And if senior managers say it is safe to work on an unscreened reception let them be the ones to do it'

The workers have vowed to back any member of staff who feels unable to work in an environment that poses an imminent risk to their health and safety. Council unions Unison and GMB have vowed to back that up with strike action if necessary.

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Tue 22 May 2007, 18:46 BST
Issue No. 2052
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