Poplar flaks won’t Bow down

On Monday 21 November, NUJ and Unison members in the press department at Tower Hamlets Council began a work-to-rule as part of the industrial action short of a strike that the chapel voted overwhelmingly earlier this month. They also plan a half-day strike on Monday 28 November, from 1pm with a rally outside the Town Hall in Mulberry Place, Poplar.

They are protesting the unfair treatment of NUJ member Eileen Short after 14 years in the press office. She was asked to reapply for her own job as part of a "reorganisation" and, though there were no other applicants, was turned down. Staff feel Eileen is being victimised because of her involvement outside work in campaigns against council house stock transfer - though no-one publicly suggest that has affected her ability to do her job in any way.

Tower Hamlets communications department was recently taken over by a consultancy firm called Verve. This is run by Lorraine Langham, who was assistant chief executive of neighbouring Hackney until she left that borough facing a £75m budget shortfall.

Langham may come to regret her writings in the 1998 Quick and Dirty Guide to PR. There, among reams of management guff, she described the need to satiate reporters' need for quotes as "feeding the pigs". That'll keep us contentedly grunting the right line...

She also advised on the urgency of identifying influential opponents in a department in order to "take them out of the equation fast."

The work to rule means staff will work only core hours - no evening or weekend jobs. The chapel would greatly appreciate it if any freelances asked to cover jobs for Tower Hamlets out of core hours found themselves unavailable for that work.


The day of action was very solid, and good support from NUJ people. The chapel there greatly appreciated all the support they were shown today. Eileen and the staff have asked us to pass on their thanks to to all the freelancers who respected the strike.

The work-to-rule continues.


Rally 14 December

There will be a rally and lobby of the full council meeting at the Town Hall on Wednesday, December 14, starting at 5.30pm at All Saints Church, East India Dock Road, Poplar (All Saints DLR: map) and proceeding to the Town Hall in Mulberry Place, E14 (map)to protest against the victimisation of NUJ/Unison member Eileen Short.

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