Union activist fights to keep his job at Tower Hamlets Council

By Else Kvist A union activist is fighting to stay on the town hall payroll after Tower Hamlets moved to outsource his job. Phil Maxwell has been working for the council as a waste education officer f

By Else Kvist

A union activist is fighting to stay on the town hall payroll after Tower Hamlets moved to outsource his job.

Phil Maxwell has been working for the council as a waste education officer for 10 years, running environmental projects at schools in the borough.

Now the council has decided to outsource the education role to waste contractors Veolia but the decision has sparked protest.

Mr Maxwell, a Unison shop steward believes the council's decision to outsource his job is based on his trade union activities and because is openly gay.

Unison branch secretary John McLoughlin told Mr Maxwell's supporters at a meeting in Toynbee Hall on Thursday that the council will be paying Viola �230,000 in the first year. This would include the cost of running education projects in schools and the community, and cover wages for Mr Maxwell and around five agency staff.

He said no tender process was carried out as should happen in accordance with EU law for contracts worth over 137,000 Euros.

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Speaking at the meeting was political and gay activist Peter Tatchell, who said it is was a "shabby way" to treat someone who has pioneered environmental projects and won accolades for his education projects.

Mr Maxwell attracted support from a broad political spectrum with Tory opposition leader at Tower Hamlets, Peter Golds, Liberal parliamentary candidate Jonathan Fryer and the Respect Party's Kevin Ovenden addressing the audience of around 70 people.