OVER 700 workers from Birmingham City Council's housing department met on Tuesday of last week to discuss what to do about the imminent giveaway of council homes. Birmingham City Council is the biggest municipal landlord in Britain. The proposed transfer of all its 93,000 homes will 'change the face of social housing in this country', according to Housing Today magazine.
The workers heard arguments from the platform on how their terms and conditions would be removed if they were transferred to a new employer. They also heard how the transfer would bring increased rents and less secure tenancies. Although there was a real mood of anger there was no leadership given by full time union officials. Activists collected over 80 names of people prepared to build a campaign. Campaigners against council house privatisation are accusing councils and private landlords of dirty tricks.
Trade unionists in Richmond, west London, are calling for a legal investigation after council officers seized anti-privatisation leaflets from the UNISON union office. The leaflets were produced by the local Tenants Against the Sell Off group and were being stored in the office. Embarrassed council bosses were forced to hand the leaflets back when their seizure came to light.
Anti-privatisation campaigners in east London's Tower Hamlets are accusing the Labour controlled council of pushing a vote to transfer homes to a private landlord through in just a week. They also say the council pressured tenants into voting yes by visiting people at home. The vote for the transfer was 388 to 366. Campaigners accuse some of those backing the sell off of telling Bengali residents on some estates that they had no right to campaign against the privatisation.