Billingsgate fish porters deliver 20,000-strong petition
BILLINGSGATE fish porters have delivered a 20,000-strong petition to City Hall, demanding controversial changes to licensing laws be rejected.
The porters were joined by Unite the Union as they delivered boxes of signed petitions to the mayor’s office on Tuesday.
Currently, porters must have a licence to transport fish. But under the proposals, this age-old licence would be revoked.
Steve Hart, London regional secretary for Unite the Union, said: “As our response to the consultation shows, this foolish plan will destroy centuries of heritage – it is driven by ideology rather than common sense.
“The Corporation must hear the opposition of the fish porters, the public and even some of the fish merchants at Billingsgate. This plan has no significant support, apart from external consultants.”
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He was supported by east London Assembly Member, John Biggs, who said: “There is obviously strong support for the market porters and I am proud to add my voice to their campaign.
“It’s time to reconsider these plans and value the work and professionalism of the porters.
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“We cannot lose this important and vibrant part of the East End’s heritage.”
However, fish merchants have backed the proposal, with Diana Soltmann from London Fish Merchants’ Association saying: “Key decisions about buying and selling fish are made entirely by the 40 fish merchants and not by porters whose job it is simply to distribute the fish in the market.
“The porters have no involvement in quality control, health and safety and require no training to obtain a licence.”
The proposal is still under consultation.