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1 December 2021

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Housing campaigners protest CEO champagners

Socialists and trade unionists joined the Shac protest

Socialists and trade unionists joined the Shac protest   (Click to enlarge)

Nick Auvache, Unite Housing Workers, branch organiser (personal capacity)

On 25 November, bloated CEOs, senior managers and their hangers-on in the social housing industry attended their annual shindig. They were promised an evening of top-class entertainment, gourmet food, champagne and even branded chocolate.

They paid as much as £4,495 for a table at the UK Housing Awards. For those on a budget, there were seats available for as little as £395!

The Social Housing Awards Campaign (Shac) organised a parallel 'awards' ceremony. This was a genuine forum, where real tenants could speak and receive the trophies on behalf of their landlord to highlight their incompetence and profiteering.

Normally these landlords are shielded from the anger of their tenants and workers. But before these 'social landlords' could get to their champagne, they had to run the gauntlet of an impromptu picket set up by Shac and other housing campaigners.

Dressed in their dinner jackets and expensive evening gowns, they were forced to listen to the angry chants of the housing campaigners. We reminded them of the squalid conditions that many are forced to live in, broken promises, endless waiting to fix repairs, dangerous buildings, and exorbitant rents and service charges.

As the guests rolled in, many clearly felt very uncomfortable, others less so. When challenged about the costs of the event, one guest boasted about how she looked forward to drinking champagne paid for by her tenants.

The CEOs of UK's top 25 housing associations are paid a total of £7.82 million a year. No wonder they are totally divorced from the reality faced by their tenants.

The CEOs did not hear the speeches from their tenants outside. They did not hear Kwajo, a young Clarion tenant.

Kwajo has led a campaign against the appalling conditions on his south London estate. One Clarion worker admitted to him that "not even animals would live in these conditions".

The housing bosses may not have heard these words, but they certainly felt the anger. Many of the CEOs and senior management present were, disgracefully, accompanied by representatives from local authorities.

There were justifiable calls for the tops of these housing associations to go. But by itself, this will not be enough.

The 60-foot banner which headed the protest said: "Public housing not private profits". This is what Shac fights for.

We fight for this at protests, in strikes, and at the ballot box. That is why housing campaigners that share our view should join Shac and stand as Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) candidates in the local elections next year.

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In The Socialist 1 December 2021:


NHS Critical

Covid-19: New variant emerges but same old capitalist disease

27 dead in channel migrant tragedy

Bulb bailed out, nationalise energy to solve price crisis

Khan threatens further London transport cuts

Kickstart scheme 'insufficient and flawed'

Tories strengthen repressive laws


After COP26: where next for the climate movement?


Argentine elections see deepening polarisation


Wales: The Labour-Plaid Cymru agreement - jam tomorrow, maybe

Rural life

Behind the rural idyll - the problems of everyday life

Workplace news

NHS workers - vote yes for action to win a decent pay rise

Staff and students unite against university bosses' attacks

UCU higher education disputes

Education unions lead campaign against Leicester academisation

RMT strikes against abolition of night tube train operators

South Yorkshire Stagecoach drivers strike against measly 1% pay offer

Nottingham and Mansfield trade unions rally against cuts and for better pay

Oaks Park school strike ends following forced concessions


East London mass non-payment wins housing victory

Marching to stop violence against women

Housing campaigners protest CEO champagners

Building a political alternative to Tory and Labour cuts

Stop the cuts to Uni arts funding

Plymouth: Hundreds attend vigil for Bobbi-Anne McLeod

Socialism 2021: How we reached our fighting fund appeal target

End fuel poverty

Readers' opinion

TV review: Valley of the Tears


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Sheffield Just Eat strikers step up action and hold mass rally, photo by Alistair Tice

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