Socialist Worker

London Citizens' Assembly

by Judy Cox
Issue No. 1889

A LONDON Citizens' Delegates Assembly attracted around 400 people on Thursday of last week. The assembly, 70 percent of which was black or Asian, voted on proposals to put to candidates standing for mayor of London on 10 June.

The assembly was organised by The East London Communities Organisation (Telco), which involves trade union branches, churches, schools and mosques. It has helped low paid cleaners in east London win better pay deals. The citizens' assembly also included similar organisations based in south London.

The meeting selected four motions to put to a rally with mayoral candidates on 4 May. The most popular motion focused on the campaign for a living wage. This was proposed by Daniel Atakora, a Unison steward from Mile End hospital, who said, 'They need to know that living wage campaigners don't have a reverse gear.'

The motion calls on the mayor to implement a living wage package of £6.70 an hour, with sick pay and pensions, for Greater London Assembly workers. The second most popular motion called for housing for low income Londoners. This was proposed by a Marilous Soriano, a nurse from Clapham, who told the assembly, 'I am from the Philippines and have worked in London for four yours. I share a flat with my sister. We are always having to work extra shifts just to try and pay the rent.'

The third motion asked the mayor to provide £3 million for a scheme to provide socially useful holiday employment for young people and pay them a living wage. The fourth motion called for the London Metropolitan Police to provide dedicated teams of six officers per electoral ward.

These motions reflected the forces involved in the assembly. They ranged from poor public sector workers angry about low pay to church groups more concerned with law and order. Diana Swingler, a delegate from Homerton University Hospital, told Socialist Worker, 'There are a lot of black workers here who want to fight over issues like poverty pay. The turnout shows that people are also looking for a political voice. The Citizens' Assembly shouldn't just look to the mainstream candidates, like Ken Livingstone and Simon Hughes. Respect: The Unity Coalition stands for many of the things that people here want to fight for. The name Respect really connects with people here.'

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Sat 21 Feb 2004, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1889
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