Branch Secretary :

Branch meeting - tackling the housing crisis

Branch meeting - all members welcome


As well as discussing what is happening in our workplaces including the strike at the HCA / Homes England we have a guest speaker, Tony O’Brien.  He is a Unite activist and construction worker who has written a new book on ‘tackling the housing crisis’. 

It is a chance to continue our discussion on housing see our recent resolution reponding to Labour's green paper and earlier resolution to the Unite policy conference and our submission to Labours consultation on social housing – we will also prepare a full response to the recent Green Paper from Labour.

As usual the branch meeting starts at 6.30 on Tuesday 10th July (second Tuesday of the month) and you are invited to arrive from 6.00pm for snacks and informal discussion. We meet at the Unite offices in Theobalds Road Holborn see here.





This book shows how local authority directly employed workers and the creation of a national public-sector construction organisation can be the answer to our corrupt system of control by the building companies and property speculators. The book argues that housing is a human right and the system for building housing has failed us. Councils must be allowed to put to work the hundreds of thousands of exploited and unemployed constructions workers, have  large-scale quality apprentice training, far better  safety standards and good conditions of work. The book looks back on the history of Direct Labour Organisations and how they hugely contributed to local authority social housing that governments have been intent on destroying.

The price of housing has been driven up by governments allowing the private sector to not deliver adequate supply of truly affordable housing and starving local authorities from providing new social housing and maintaining its existing housing stock.


This has created monopoly control of housing by the building companies, property speculators and landlords who have used this to create vast fortunes for themselves.  Recent examples of this are:


Persimmon – Manager Bonus Millions

The chief executive of the housebuilding firm Persimmon received a £110m bonus, while 150 most senior staff, were between them, given more than £500m in bonuses. This unearned wealth reported in December 2017 came as the company benefited from the taxpayer-backed help-to-buy scheme.


Carillon Collapse

The government was aware of the Carillon failures, yet it continued to pump money into it to enrich its directors and shareholders. The government must be made to pay the wages, pensions and all other entitlements of the construction workers and others who have been made destitute. Carillion was a disgrace. They have been found guilty in the courts for blacklisting construction workers and having unsafe construction sites. We demand:


Any other major failing construction organization should be taken over to become part of a new national public- sector construction organization. Governments should transfer all public contracts into this public-sector company. That's about 40% of all construction activity. Use this public-sector organization to build masses of new infrastructure.  Expand local Building Direct Labour Organizations (DLOs) to build and maintain low rental social homes. End the housing crisis.


The ongoing Private Finance Initiative scandal

In 2017 the National Audit Office (NAO) found that in over 700 existing public-private projects, as building schools, costs can be 40 per cent higher than using public money. The auditors also disclosed that taxpayers will be forced to pay nearly £200 billion to contractors for at least 25 years on projects with a capital value of just £60bn.


We can do much better with having Construction Direct Labour

DLOs were originally set up to overcome problems created by system of corrupt contracting.

Successful DLOs call into question the necessity of a housing contracting system with its

anti-competitive contract rigging, price fixing, unsafe work practices and the victimisation and

blacklisting of trade unionists.



The book argues that we all would be much better off if we were to deny them these obscene profits by having public sector construction direct labour organizations




Posted 8 July 2018


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