Monday, 23 February 2009

Jean supports Croydon Save Our Schools

Jean was in Croydon a few weeks ago, supporting the Croydon Save Our Schools campaign, along with local Green Party members and activists. The ongoing protests oppose Croydon Council's controversial plans for the future of schools in the borough. The National Union of Teachers went on strike in five schools on 27 January, the first day of consultation on controversial plans which could see community schools turned into academies or trust schools. As a former teacher, Jean knows more than most about the dangers of academies! More information is available here.

Jean later commented:

"Academies are not just an exercise in rebranding. I believe that they represent a shift in the balance of power between the providers of education and the community they serve. While local authorities continue to pay the bills, their power is reduced, partly because controls are given over to the academy's sponsors.

"Academies do not have to apply the full national curriculum, unlike state schools, and they can also introduce other innovations, like specialisation, as such schools are deemed to be "failing" and in need of a makeover. My main concern is that turning Croydon's schools into academies will alter their democratic accountability and relationships with the community."

For more information on the whole campaign, check out the Croydon SOS website

Monday, 16 February 2009

Greening Work

Jean will be speaking at a public meeting on Saturday 21st February, being organised by the Green Party Trade Union Group and focusing on the role of trade unions in building a green economy. Well worth a visit, I'd say....

GREEN PARTY TRADE UNION GROUP & London Federation of Green Parties


Work-Life Balance, Greening Work and the Role of Trade Unions

The world is plunging headlong into recession, but could these difficult times provide the opportunity for a 'New Green Deal' or a 'Just Transition' from our current economic system, which cause economic & ecological disaster? What will this new economy be like? How can workers' rights be defended as it is built?

Date: Saturday 21 February, 2pm-5pm

Venue: St Pancras Church Hall , Lancing Street, off Eversholt Street, London, NW1 1AN. Next to Euston BR, tube and bus stations.


Jean Lambert MEP, Green Party Member of the European Parliament for London. Jean will be talking about her Green Work report and work-life balance, giving a European context.

Tony Kearns, CWU Senior Deputy General Secretary. Tony will give a national union perspective.

Anne Elliott-Day, PCS, Public and Commercial Services Union. Anne will explain the importance of trade union green representatives.

Sian Jones, TUC/Trade Union Sustainable Development Advisory Committee. Sian will be talking about trade union initiatives to green the workplace.


This event is FREE, but you should reserve a place by emailing Pete Murry - or call 07736 525 187

Saturday, 14 February 2009

Commitment to the Living Wage

One common, and mistaken, stereotype about Greens is that they only work on issues to do with environmental sustainability. However, unlike the mainstream parties, Greens understand that a healthy planet will not be worth living on unless the inequality and injustice that blights our society is dealt with. Green Party elected representatives on all levels have been working hard to deal with issues of poverty and deprivation that the other parties have ignored for too long. A good example is the work being done across the country on the 'living wage'.

The concept is simple. The minimum wage, while welcome, is simply not enough for people to live on. A Green government would introduce a Citizen's Income for everyone, as of right - but before we are in a position to implement such a scheme, we can still push hard for a liveable wage for people's work. In London, that rate is currently £7.45 an hour, and it was the budget negotiations of the London Assembly Green Group that made it the official policy of the GLA. It has been Green Party policy for some time now, and while campaigning and community groups like London Citizens are doing excellent work pushing forward the concept, it is elected Greens who are at the forefront of making it happen in council chambers across the UK. Just two recent examples of our efforts in this area can be seen in Southwark and Lambeth.

And don't think that Jean is missing out on this campaign for social justice! As ever, she's pushing things forward on a European level, and making sure that pioneering Green work in London is replicated across the continent. An example of her latest effort to bring the European Commission into line on a living wage can be seen in her Written Question, below.

by Jean Lambert (Verts/ALE)
to the Commission

Subject: The inclusion of living-wage conditions in procurement processes

The Commission may be aware of the London Living-Wage Policy of the Greater London Authority, and similar standards in other Member States, whereby public and private employers guarantee a minimum wage greater than the statutory requirement as a response to issues of local or regional low pay, affordability and poverty.

Can the Commission confirm that the inclusion of living-wage conditions in procurement processes is taken into account by the EU procurement regime, such that the benefits of living-wage guarantees can be enjoyed to an equivalent standard by workers directly employed by third parties?

Will the Commission review the EU procurement regime to ensure that living-wage policies are not just fully accommodated, but indeed encouraged, as part of EU objectives for social and economic inclusion and sustainable development?

P.S. Don't forget - if you want Jean to be re-elected - you need to support her! Please consider donating, which you can do simply by clicking the button at the top right of this page.

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Jean speaks out on Sri Lanka

Jean Lambert joined members of the Tamil community in London this weekend to discuss the ongoing conflict in Sri Lanka. Jean is a member of the European Parliament’s Delegation to South Asia (SAARC), and so has a longstanding interest in the region's afairs.

About 100 people attended a public meeting with the Thames Tamil Association in Greenwich on Saturday [February 7], among them those with relatives in the area currently suffering the terrible effects of the conflict. Jean heard from Tamils living in London of their concerns for loved ones in Sri Lanka. Many have had no contact with them for days; others spoke of relatives who have been injured or killed in the fighting.

Jean is calling for an immediate ceasefire on the island, and for urgent action to free the 250,000 civilians trapped at the heart of the war zone.

She said:

“An immediate ceasefire on both sides is imperative. The situation in Sri Lanka is deteriorating by the day. A quarter of a million people are now trapped, and the fighting is getting ever closer to these civilians. It is crucial that the humanitarian corridor is opened up, to let these people out and to let desperately needed help, in the form of medical care, food, and mobile phones, in.

“It’s also time to let the rest of the world in. We have to ensure that international aid agencies are allowed safe access to the most vulnerable people, and can carry out their vital work without impediments of the kind we saw last Friday [February 6], when the Red Cross came under attack after false rumours that it had ordered 35,000 body bags in expectation of huge fatalities among Tamil fighters.

“While it remains impossible to build up a clear picture of exactly what is happening inside the conflict zone, because of the restrictions on journalists, we must maintain the pressure from the outside, and ensure that bringing an end to the suffering of innocent civilians remains a priority in the UK, Europe, and across the world.

“We need international monitors in Sri Lanka as a matter of urgency to assess the scale of the humanitarian crisis and lead moves towards a long-term political solution that will bring peace to the island and an end to violence and intimidation.”

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Air pollution in London

Jean is an occasional blogger on the Guardian's Comment Is Free. Today's article is on the subject of the EU preparing to sue the UK government for its pitiful failure over air quality, particularly in London. Not a moment too soon!

Sunday, 1 February 2009

Green union reps

Jean has been working for many years on trade union issues, particularly in the areas of public services, opposition to privatisation, and the environment in the workplace. On the last issue, she was the co-sponsor of a Parliamentary Written Declaration in 2008 (number 88/2008), calling for legally mandated 'green reps' in workplaces. The idea has been championed by trade unions as a way to deliver greener workplaces through collective agreements between employers, employees and unions.

Dedicated green reps would raise environmental awareness as well as negotiate for the introduction of new environmental practices, and would have legal protection (as health and safety reps currently do, for example) and time during work to pursue environmental issues.

Over half of carbon emissions in the UK are work-related, so businesses have a vitally important role to play in tackling climate change.

Jean, who sits on the Employment and Social Affairs Committee in the European Parliament said:

"Dedicated union green reps have the potential to raise awareness of environmental issues and help to change behaviour in the workplace. They would also help deliver significant environmental improvements through engagement between employers and the workforce that will help the UK shift to a low carbon economy.

"There is huge potential for trade union members to play a significant role as green representatives at work, but to perform their role effectively they need legal recognition and the right to undertake relevant training and duties."

The Green Party of England and Wales adopted a motion at their last conference calling for Green Reps to be recognised under the law. This was put forward by Jean, and was passed unanimously. Jean has also recently published her new report on Green Work, which highlights the importance of giving Green Reps legal status.

To give credit where it is due, the Written Declaration was co-signed by Alejandro Cercas of the Socialist Group and Luigi Cocilovo from the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe.

To dole out some shame where it is deserved, six out of the other eight London MEPs didn't bother to sign the declaration. Another sign of why we need progressive MEPs like Jean in the Parliament.


WRITTEN DECLARATION pursuant to Rule 116 of the Rules of Procedure by Jean Lambert, Caroline Lucas, Alejandro Cercas and Luigi Cocilovo on workers’ environmental representatives


Written declaration on workers’ environmental representatives

The European Parliament,
– having regard to Rule 116 of its Rules of Procedure,

A. whereas, given the EU Sustainable Development Strategy, the European Council (Presidency Conclusions, 8-9 March 2007) has committed to 2020 EU targets of 20-30 % reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, energy consumption reductions of 20 %, and 20 % of energy demand from renewables, and the Commission has proposed renewable energy targets for each Member State,

B. whereas industry’s meeting of environmental targets should be undertaken in a just way, requiring the active participation and support of employees and workplace representatives,

C. whereas trade unions are ideally placed to promote, implement, and help develop best environmental workplace practice,

D. whereas some employers and trade unions have developed environmental workplace policies, and workers’ environmental representatives are recognised in some workplaces,

1. Calls on the Council and Commission to acknowledge the importance of trade unions and workers’ environmental representatives in meeting environmental challenges, particularly delivering on the EU’s Sustainable Development Strategy and climate change and environmental objectives;

2. Calls on the Council and Commission to work to secure rights for workers’ environmental representatives, including time for relevant training, the undertaking of workplace environmental audits and other duties;

3. Calls on Member States to afford workers’ environmental representatives these aforementioned rights, and to work with trade unions and employers to achieve environmental objectives in the most just way;

4. Instructs its President to forward this declaration, together with the names of the signatories, the Council, the Commission and Member States.