On Saturday the 9th March, we held our All Members Meeting at Brunswick Parish Church. This was well attended with 36 members coming along to share their experiences across GMTU branches.

Addressing the upcoming elections, the committee proposed a motion to members: “GMTU should take an active approach to campaigning during the election campaigns to get our message out there and insert ourselves into the conversation”. The motion included areas of policy that we would particularly like to focus on such as: an expansion of council housing; rent controls; abolishment of section 21; end of Right to Buy; abolishing Buy-to-Let mortgages; tougher enforcement for landlords; abolishing Right to Rent which penalises asylum seekers; and an increase to compulsory purchase powers for local councils.

The motion was passed unanimously. Details of the full motion are available for anyone that has missed this.

There were reflections on the recent “Block the Block” and “Ardwick Against the Monster” campaigns, and the launch of our new pamphlet written by member Rich Goulding, “Researching Developers and Landlords”. This pamphlet is filled with detailed information and guides on how to research for large scale campaigns against corporate landlords and developers. Please contact isaac@tenantsunion.org.uk to obtain a copy.

Writer and GMTU member Nathaniel McBride previously worked with Grenfell Residents in 2022 when writing Dictating to the Estate, a documentary play about events leading up to the Grenfell Tower fire.

Nathaniel presented a section at the AMM about his upcoming play, which will cover renting in Greater Manchester, and he wants to incorporate the experience of being in a tenants union as part of the narrative.

Work on his new play will be ongoing until October, including a workshop at PeopleFest in April, with plans to go into production in early 2025. Once the play is released, GMTU will be promoting the union in partnership with the play. Anyone looking to get involved and help out, should contact Nathaniel on than.mcbride@gmail.com.

There was a discussion about funding for our union and we are looking for fundraising ideas. If you have any ideas for potential fundraising - particularly if you are currently in a Trade Union that may be interested in working with us, please contact your branch secretary or email info@tenantsunion.org.uk. Gaskell Garden Project are holding a pay-as-you-feel meal/fundraiser for GMTU, at Old Abbey Taphouse on 13th March from 7pm 'til Late. All members are invited, with a 3 course meal, a raffle, and some music to round of the evening.

Committee Member Solidarity Officers Muel and Connor provided an update on ongoing member solidarity work. With our recent member solidarity open training, we now have a number of volunteers in the pipeline learning the ropes. We are implementing an MSO structure, and once this group are fully trained, it will greatly increase our capacity to engage with members.

We are expecting a few large disputes, particularly with tenants and leaseholders at a building in the Northern Quarter, where a member reached out to the union about problems with their building managers/agent. This agent manages all the properties in the building, and the MSO team is working to engage and meet with the other tenants to help increase the tenant power when we begin negotiations with the agent.

Another recent dispute involved a member struggling with a rent increase. Their landlord is a “landlord influencer” on social media and we are in the first stages of work on this. We hope to update members further as this progresses.

Over the last few months there have been several wins for members, too. Alistair was one of them and he spoke about his experience of challenging his landlord who tried to increase his rent despite having ignored his requests for repairs. After reaching out to GMTU and working with Committee Member Solidarity Officer Connor, Alastair managed to delay the rent increase, and has now had all outstanding repairs completed.

As the AMM drew to a close, members decamped to the nearby Grafton Arms, where Manchester Radical Tradition were holding an event. Manchester Radical Tradition are a folk group dedicated to teaching/learning and bringing working class folk music back to prominence. It was a really enjoyable event with a focus on tenant union, rent strike and land justice folk songs from across the UK. Events are held regularly and more information about Manchester Radical Tradition can be found here.