Community membership in London and Eastern

Unite's community membership scheme brings together people from across our society. Those not in employment are welcomed into the union family, adding another dimension to our strength in thousands of workplaces across the UK. 

There are 10 Community co-ordinators appointed by Unite across the UK whose role is to engage with the community at the grassroots and offer new community members the benefits of a trade union for the cost of 50p a week.

Read the Community report from Unite's national policy conference 2014.

Bedroom Tax
Bedroom tax demo at one hyde parkMembers continue to campaign against the Bedroom Tax, and on April 5th, the 1st anniversary of the implementation of the 2012 Welfare Reform Act, we held a demonstration against the tax, and other aspects of welfare reform, outside One Hyde Park in Knightsbridge.

The venue was chosen to highlight the hypocrisy of the government’s welfare agenda. It is known as the most expensive residence ever built, anywhere in the world. Of the 80 flats in the building 60 are uninhabited, and owned by companies registered in off-shore tax havens, only 6 are used as primary homes, and only around 10 pay any council tax.

Members from north, south, east and west London were involved in organising the demonstration, around 400 people attended, and the demonstration was reported on LBC, ITV London News and in The Sunday People newspaper. There was a great atmosphere, lots of lively speakers, music, and an anti-austerity choir.

The following Wednesday was Iain Duncan Smith’s 60th birthday, so we designed a giant birthday card for him, collecting hundreds of messages from people about the Bedroom Tax, and delivered it to him at the DWP. More in this Mirror article.

Housing weekender
Unite community members took part in the London housing weekender on 26-27 April, a weekend of events organised by the Radical Housing Network – a network of groups from across London who work on a whole range of housing issues.

Housing inequality bus tour
Unite community hired an open top bus on Saturday 26th April which toured through Brent, Barnet and Westminster. We took music, refreshments and lots of information about housing. Community members visited sites that are being impacted by London’s housing crisis and met local people who are affected by the issues.
Housing inequality bus tour

Jubilee Sports Centre - Westminster

Jubilee Sports Centre WestminsterWestminster is one of the richest boroughs in the country, but the council is planning to demolish this sports centre – the only community facility in the poorest part of the borough – to make way for luxury flats. No social housing is planned for the development.

West Hendon Estate, Barnet
West Hendon housing estateBarnet council is planning to demolish the West Hendon Estate and build private flats in its place. Around 700 households are threatened with eviction.

Watch the video of the bus tour:

Unite hosted the event on Sunday 27th, and housing activists from across London met at our regional office for a day of workshops to discuss the housing crisis and how we can organise to challenge its causes and defend communities from its consequences.

Unite Community wins concessions from Southwark council
Handing in postcards before meeting with Council Leader in SouthwarkUnite’s council tax benefit campaign in Brent and Southwark has seen some success with Southwark council agreeing to review its criteria to increase the number of people who can claim financial assistance.

The cuts to council tax benefit affects millions of people in the UK, around  20% of these people are in work. Unite community members have engaged with people outside jobcentres, speaking to people about the issue and collected signatures for campaign postcards, collecting 1000 in Southwark and 500 in Brent.

Unite submitted 1000 postcards to Southwark in early January and Unite assistant general secretary, Steve Turner met with the council leader to discuss how the council could mitigate the effects of this cut on Southwark residents.

Southwark had previously made £800,000 available to some residents to help with the costs for those newly asked to pay council tax, but the qualifying criteria had been extremely narrow, with the result that only £200,000 had been successfully claimed.  The council had been planning to fold the remaining money back into its overall budget, but has now informed Unite that it is reviewing qualifying criteria with a view to expanding the number and type of people who qualify for financial assistance.

Protesting at council meeting in Brent

Brent Council bar public from meeting after heckling campaigners refuse to be silenced, Kilburn Times
Public kept out of eventful council meeting amid protests, Get West London

Thousands in court for council tax arrears as benefit cuts hit home, Guardian

Protesting at council meeting in Brent                    

Benefits Street: ‘Love Productions, Channel 4, spreading lies about the poor'
Unite Community members deeply upset by the portrayal of people who have to rely on welfare benefits on the Channel 4 programme Benefits Street, called a rapid response protest. The protest was against the misrepresentation of those who have been most negatively impacted by the government’s attacks on welfare benefits.

Unite Community members from Birmingham, the city in which the show was filmed, also attended  the protest.

The event was covered extensively in the media, featured on LBC, on the front page of the Morning Star, and was mentioned by Paul O’Grady on The One Show! The protest also received extensive coverage in the local Birmingham media.

Benefits Street demo

Film of the protest, which includes facts on the reality of the benefits system, and our members speaking about the issues.

Waltham Forest members supporting the RMT                                                                            Waltham Forest members supporting the FBU
Waltham Forest members supporting the RMTWaltham Forest members supporting the FBU

We have local activity in many parts of the region, with regular London wide meetings. Here are some examples of work that is going on locally. To find out more contact David Condliffe.

Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group - Community members at Neasden job centre Unite Community is affiliated with Kilburn Unemployed Workers, a group based in North West London that meets weekly to provide support and advocacy to members on welfare issues, and also to campaign around issues such as the bedroom tax and the governments' vicious assaults on the welfare state.

The group meets every Thursday between 3pm and 5.30pm at the Kingsgate Centre, 107 Kingsgate Road, NW6 2JGH. More information here


Community members supporting local govt unions in Lambeth Lambeth members meet once a month in the Brixton area.
Community members are playing a leading role in local campaigning on housing through their participation in Lambeth Housing Activists group. Members have organised deputations to the council, local protests, and are currently very busy campaigning against the eviction of one of Unite’s community members in local co-operative ‘short-life’ housing.

Unite community provide welfare sessions in two of the large estates in the area, and are using a hotline phone so that local people can call for support and information on welfare issues. They have helped a high number of people with different welfare issues, particularly helping people to claim back housing benefit owed due to the 1996 loophole.

Drop-in sessions:
Loughborough Centre, 105 Angell Road SW9 7PD: Tuesdays 2pm - 4pm and 6.15pm - 8.15pm, Saturdays 10am - 1pm (in conjunction with the Loughborough estate TRA Digital Hub - offering help to use computers and access free internet)

Southwyck House Community Centre, Moorlands Road SW9 8TT: Wednesdays 12noon - 2pm

In February Lambeth Unite Community members organised a ‘Homes not Jails’ sleep-out outside the local police station, to protest against the criminalisation of rough sleepers.  Facebook page.

The branch is very involved in the campaign to Save Brixton College, which is threatened with closure, with the site to be turned into a free school. Facebook page for the campaign.

West London
In Ealing Unite community members meet regularly to plan local activity. They recently organised a well-attended, lively and colourful protest outside the ATOS office in Ealing as part of the national day of action to highlight the inadequacy of the ATOS test and the harm that the system has done to disabled people. Shortly after the day of action ATOS announced their intention to withdraw from the contract providing the notorious DWP ‘fit for work’ assessment.

Ealing ATOS demo