People Before Profit’s, Eamonn McCann, has called on Housing Executive tenants in the Bogside to organise to stop their homes being sold off to a housing association.
“We need to invoke the spirit of the Civil Rights Movement now,” he said.
“The sell-off of these homes is part of the move to get rid of the Housing Executive – one of the most important legacies of Civil Rights.”
Mr McCann claims that the authorities at Stormont want to privatise homes by transferring them to housing associations.
“We know what will happen from what’s happened in Britain. Rents will go up, services get worse and fat-cat salaries for top managers will become standard,” said Mr. McCann.
“Housing Associations admit that their rents are between a fifth and a third higher than those of the Housing Executive. This means that the rent isn’t always covered by Housing Benefit.”
Mr. McCann said he believed the transfer of the homes from the Housing Executive to a housing association was a job cutting exercise.
“Once the houses are gone, Housing Executive workers would be transferred to the private sector - meaning job cuts and loss of pension and holiday and other entitlements. Workers would be asked to take the hit for the bungling of HE management and the privatisation plans of politicians.
“The transfer can be stopped if the tenants unite and campaign for a No vote. We’ve seen successful campaigns across the water that have not only kept homes in the public sector but have gone on to secure better conditions for the tenants.”
With Stormont elections taking place in May, Mr. McCann believes voters should be asking politicians to explain why publicly owned social housing is being transferred to a private housing association.
“When politicians come around the doors in the coming months, we all need to ask them why they are allowing this sell-off of public housing. The Deputy First Minister should explain how this can happen on his watch.
“The only way jobs and services can be protected is through a united mass campaign against the sell-off of Housing Executive homes and attacks on jobs. Unions and tenants should stand shoulder-to-shoulder. People Before Profit will be doing all that it can to make that happen over the coming weeks”, said Mr McCann.