Archive for the ‘Political Issues’ Category

Cleaners Protest in Pouring Rain

Monday, November 26th, 2018

The Ministry of Justice at times appears to be titled in best Orwellian manner, and certainly so far as its low paid staff – such as the cleaners – are concerned it is very much a Ministry of Injustice. It’s  place I’ve attended a number of protests outside, about the treatment of refugees and asylum seekers, about prisons, about privatisation of probation services, aboujt the slashing of legal aid and more. Most recently I’ve been there a few times about the rock-bottom wages and lousy conditions of employment for the people who keep the place clean.

One major reason that our UK benefits system has become so complex, leading to the fiasco over the introduction of Universal Credit, is that we have become very much a low pay economy, at least for those at the lower end of employment. Partly this is because of the huge salaries and other payments given to the people at the top, but more it reflects the contempt the well-off largely feel for those at the bottom.

Universal Credit aims to drive people into work by cutting benefits; its proponents say that aims to make work pay, but unfortunately they have failed to make work pay enough to live on, particularly in London, where costs are high. It seems to me axiomatic that any full time job should pay as a minimum a real living wage. Paying benefits to people because their employer doesn’t pay them enough to live on  – as our system does is a subsidy for inefficient or unscrupulous employers (just as housing benefit is a subsidy for landlords.)  And of course there are many jobs that the state should pay for people to do, either directly or thorugh employers, but it should be deciding what these are and not leaving it to the whims and distortions of private companies.

Cleaners perform a vital role at the offices of the Ministry of Justice, as they do elsewhere, and should be paid at least enough to live on, which is the figure published annually as the London Living Wage. It seems to me a simple matter of justice, but that seems to be in short supply at the ministry.

The campaign here is one of a number being fought for low paid cleaners by the United Voices of the World trade union, which many employers refuse to recognise and try to avoid having to deal with. The large established trade unions – with a few notable local branch exceptions – have not been very succesful in recruiting low paid workers and dealing with their problems, particularly when many of these workers don’t have English as their first language. They often have cosy arrangements with large employers and are ‘recognised’ as representing low paid workers even when they have few if any members among them. Unsurprisingly they haven’t done much for those at the bottom.

Unions such as the UVW are ‘grass roots’ unions with few if any paid staff – and those who work for them generally do so on the London Living Wage they fight for on behalf of their members. They are small enough to have simple democratic structures where every member can have a say – and in their first language. They organise effective protests at workplaces, but also educational classes (particularly language classes) and social events, a few of which I’ve been invited to and have enjoyed.

The main problem in photographing the event was the weather. The  protest began in light rain, but it was soon pouring, and there was only very limited shelter. Some of the protesters were directly against the wall of the building, where an overhang gave some protection, while others stood in the rain under umbrellas.

I had an umbrella with me, but it isn’t easy to take pictures holding one – cameras really need both hands to operate. And sometimes I could stand with those under the underhang, but it wasn’t always the right place to be to take pictures.  Occasionally I could stand under one of the umbrellas various people were holding, but more often I was standing a little further away and they poured water down on me.

I was getting very wet, and so were the two cameras I was using. Both the Nikon D810 and the D750 have some weather protection, though the lenses are leaky.

I usually keep the D810 on a sling strap at my side, with the lens pointing down, and on the 28-200 I have a screw-in lens hood which offers some limited protection. It isn’t perfect, and vignettes slightly at the wide end when working full-frame, but it’s a great improvement on the plastic Nikon version, which used to fall off at the slightest provovacation. It was an odd size and I think no longer made. I managed to replace the first one I lost after long searching on the web, but it cost £20 and when that one disappeared I decided to go for a generic screw in one.

The D750 with a wide angle uses a more standard lens hood. Still falls off if looked at hard, but when I lose them it’s only a couple of quid for a Chinese replacement (actually slightly better than the genuine thing.) But any lens hood you can use on a 18-35mm isn’t too effective at keeping the rain off.  I have the D750 on a fairly short neck strap, and slip it inside my jacket when it rains, but this means leaving the zip down some way on the jacket – and I get a wet neck and chest.

In my hand when photographing in wet conditions I have a large microfibre cloth, to wipe cameras and lenses. As well as the filter on the front of the lens, its important to keep the tubes of the zoom lenses dry, or else water migrates from them into the lens and condenses as a mist on the elements. And doubtless also on the mechanical bits inside the lens, which I’m sure isn’t good for them.

When I’ve got the camera with the wide-angle in my hand I make a ball of the cloth and hold it in the front of the lens to protect it from rain drops – glass seems to have a strong magnetic effect on them – only removing it briefly to frame and expose each picture.

But for part of this event my job was made much easier, as one of the UVW members, seeing me getting rather wet, came and acted as my assistant, holding an umbrella over me and keeping the worst of the rain off. I was extremely grateful to her. Later the rain did stop and it was easier to work, and for Shadow Justice minister Richard Burgon to come and support the workers in his shirtsleeves. And by the end of the protest the cleaners and supporters were dancing in the street outside the ministry.

Three months later, the dispute is still ongoing, with the Minister of Justice refusing to meet with the UVW.  I’m sure there will be more protests soon.

Ministry of Justice cleaners protest

Meeting the Council

Saturday, November 24th, 2018

I don’t often go to Council meetings. In my experience they tend to be rather boring and I’ve generally avoided them. I was once asked if I’d like to stand as a councillor by the then Mayor of the borough where I live, but I declined the offer, not least because it would have meant joining the Conservative Party.

I’m not a member of any political party, though in the dim distant past I went to the meetings of the Labour Party youth, but really only because they gave out free cigarettes (this was back in the early 1960s – I gave up smoking when I was 21.)  As a student in 1963 I did join the Labour club at university, and was very  impressed by our President, Barbara Castle, then at her prime in her 50s, but then the Party decided we were all too left-wing and chucked us out.

In the late 80s I joined the Ecology Party, which split to become the Green Party, but I didn’t stay long; at that time there were too many eccentric sandal-wearers and not enough people with any political sense, and though I’ve known and admired people at the top in more recent years, including Caroline Lucas and Natalie Bennett, I’ve never quite felt like joining.  And although I like both Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell, both of whom I’ve met and photographed many times over the years, there are parts of the Labour Party I wouldn’t want to be associated with.

So although it might have been interesting to be a Conservative councillor on the very far left outside the party spectrum, I don’t think I would have lasted more than one meeting.

But on a Tuesday in August I did go to the public meeting with the planning committee of the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea, and though it started in a rather prosaic fashion, things soon livened up, as I had gone in with around 30 members of the cleaner’s union, the United Voices of the World.

No sooner had the chair of the meeting outlined what was going to happen, than things began to run to a very different plan, with UVW’s Petros Elia standing up and interupting proceedings by demanding that the council pay their cleaners a living wage, and he was backed up by the others in the group who brought out banners and called for justice for the cleaners.

The protesters refused to back down, and after a few minutes argument, the chair led the members of the committee, except for one who remained, out into an adjoining room. A debate then took place between some of the public who had come to the meeting and the UVW. Local campaign groups wanted to present their case about a local development to the planning committee, and while they agreed that the cleaners should be paid a living wage asked them not to disrupt the meeting.

The cleaners who worked for the council had not come into the meeting but were holding a protest outside. They had been picketing the offices all day during a 3 day strike for the living wage and to be brought back into direct employment by the council rather than being employed by a contract cleaning company on the legal minimum conditions of service and badly managed.  Earlier in the day council officers had said the council would bring them back ‘in-house’ but later that offer had been withdrawn.  The UVW was angered both by this withdrawal of a promise, and also by the refusal of the council to talk with the union to which almost all the cleaners belong.

Eventually a woman who had been sitting with the public stood up and informed us all that she was a leading member of the council and promised that she would come and talk with the cleaners on the picket line the following morning, bringing with her as many of the other ‘cabinet’ members as she could arrange to be there to join in.

After some further discussion between her and Petros Elia for the UVW, the protesters agreed to leave the meeting to allow it to continue and went out to join the cleaners outside the offices and tell them the news.  The  protest had acheived a breakthough as before the council had simply refused to talk.

Less than a month after the strike and this action, the council agreed to ensure that the cleaners were brought up to the London Living Wage by December 2018 and to review the contract with Amey with the intention of early termination so the cleaners can be directly employed.

The cleaners who were currently paid on the minimum wage (renamed by the Tory government the National Living Wage, but well below a Living Wage in London) of £7.83 per hour will get an almost 30% increase.  Coming into direct employment will bring them proper sick pay, longer holidays and better pensions as well as management that has to take much greater consideration of their health and safety and will hopefully be far more competent.

You can read more about the meeting and see more pictures at Council cleaners demand a living wage

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There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, a small donation – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

To order prints or reproduce images

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October 2018 complete

Wednesday, November 14th, 2018

A few recent days without protests to photograph (or that I hadn’t the energy to go and photograph) gave me the time to finish work on my pictures from October and put them on-line in My London Diary. Or so I thought a few days ago, and then I realised that the month had 31 days and I still have October 31st to do.

The Extinction Rebellion began on October 31st, arguably the biggest event of the month, and certainly one where I took most pictures. But the protest coming on November 17th, Rebellion Day, is the one which will show how serious this movement will be.

Oct 2018

Extinction Rebellion roadblock
Extinction Rebellion rally
Canada Goose cruelty to animals
20th UFFC remembrance rally


20th UFFC remembrance procession
Fridays for Future – act on climate change
Support self-employed parental leave
Scrap ICP Contract, Keep NHS Public


Justice For Jamal Khashoggi & Yemen
Act Up prepare for Bohemian Rhapsody
People’s Vote March – End
Veterans United Against Suicide
People’s Mujahedin of Iran
MfJ at People’s Vote March


People’s Vote March – Start


Mail group end your transphobic hate
Olympic Park walk
BEIS refuse International Rescue help
Mike Seaborne Isle of Dogs
Greenwich Walk
No More Grenfells – Make Tower Blocks Safe


March for Further Education
Ahwazi protest Iranian repression
Rally opposes Islamophobic DFLA
National Funeral for the Unknown Cyclist
Guantanamo Justice October Vigil


Women against Pension Theft
Harlesden Protest Police Brutality
Unstone and Apperknowle
Sheffield
Derek Ridgers Opening & Book Launch


Vedanta’s Final AGM

London Images

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There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, a small donation – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

To order prints or reproduce images

________________________________________________________

Remembering the Great War

Sunday, November 11th, 2018

I wonder what my father was thinking a hundred years ago today, somewhere in Northern France as  part of the RAF’s ground crew. He’d been conscripted in January 1918, shortly after his 18th birthday (and after having been laid off at a munitions factory) though he could have avoided service  on health grounds. The doctor at his medical on his 18th birthday was ready to reject him, as he was stone deaf in one ear, and asked him “Do you want to go in the Army?” and he replied “Yes, I would like to“.

He didn’t talk about the war, but my sister did persuade him to write about his life not long  before he died in his eighties. He was assigned to the Royal Flying Corps, possibly because his craft skills were thought to be useful there, but more probably by chance, and after some rather dubious monts of “training” was posted to France in August 1918. At Farnborough he “was given the number 119377 and the rank of 3rd Air Mechanic (called 3rd Ack Emma), and awarded the magnificent wage of one shilling plus one penny a day, seven days a week – the extra penny because I was designated Clerk.”

He writes

“I came into collision with authority very soon. We had a load of petrol in and I was to help unload it. Corporal said “Put it down here”. I pointed out that the pit was on the other side of the lorry, and it was only sensible to put it over there. I was reported and had to go to see the Sergeant -Major. He said that I was on active service and people were often shot at dawn for disobeying orders. I told him I didn’t expect to live very long, and if he liked doing that sort of thing it was OK by me. He told me to clear off and not be so silly. I rather think he had a word with that corporal. I didn’t hear anymore about it.”

Dad was assigned to HQ Flight and they were stationed somewhere in the St Quentin area, though they had to move very frequently, and he spent much of his time loading and unloading lorries with their stores and equipment.

Chinese coolies prepared our sites and probably erected buildings; and of course they dug the petrol holes out. There was every nationality represented amongst the troops and auxiliaries. It was amazing how varied an organisation the armies were. There were lots of horses, mules and bullocks pressed in to do the work. Then there were the Tommies and the Frenchies and all the other fighting men, all colours, marching backwards and forwards – Colonials, Indians, Africans; we had an Empire then!”

We were up near Courtrai when the armistice was announced – was it called Bissingham or something like that? … I think we had an inkling that it was coming, and I was crossing over to the flight sheds which were old “Jerry” ones when I met a civilian who shouted “La guerre fini; tres bon, monsieur”; I replied “tres bon, m’sieur”.

He did come under fire on at least one occasion which he describes, but despite being in the RFC and the RAF I don’t think he ever flew. And while he had a rifle, at least when he was on guard duty, he never used it and said it “just got in the way.” Later Dad went on into Germany after many of those who had served longer were demobbed, ending up in sole charge of the stores he had worked in, only returning to the UK in December 1919 after which he got a month’s leave and £75 in back pay to finish his service, though as he says “of course I was still officially on reserve (perhaps I still am).”

Too old to fight in the Second War, Dad served at home, both as a firewatcher and as a bee-keeper. At the outbreak of the war he was secretary of the Twickenham & Thames Valley Beekeepers Association, who decided to hold a Honey show in “November 1939 to shed a little light on the prevailing gloom.” They called it the ‘Rainbow Show” and it continued annually until the 1945 ‘Victory Show’. Bee-keepers had a vital role in the ‘Dig for Victory’ campaign, with bees both producing honey and fertilising the crops, and though he makes no mention of it in his account I remember him telling me about cycling all around the county as ‘Foul Brood Inspector for Middlesex’, from Staines and Uxbridge to Harrow and beyond, instructing in good practice many of those with no previous experience of  keeping bees.

This year I’ve not photographed any of the events to mark 100 years since the end of the “Great War”, the “War to end all Wars” that are taking place today. I’m very much put off by the militaristic nature of so much of the annual celebrations that take part. I was very much more impressed a few years ago when I was in Germany on the 11th of November, when the day seemed to be celebrated not just to remember those who died, but as a festival for peace. It seemed far more respectful of the dead on both sides and what they died for.

______________________________________________________

There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, a small donation – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

To order prints or reproduce images

________________________________________________________

Yarl’s Wood 14

Thursday, November 8th, 2018

I’m getting rather used to the ride from Bedford Station to Yarls Wood, going up through Clapham and then a mile or so on a cycle path beside the A6 befgore turning up the hill from Milton Ernest to the meeting point for protesters in front of the Twinwoods gates. That final hill is long and steep, though it’s something of shock to look at the OS map and find I’ve only climbed around 45 metres (around 150 ft) as it feels much more.

This was the 14th protest that Movement for Justice have organised, bringing many former detainees with them, with coaches from London and elsewhere. I could have joined them in London, but that would add another 3 or 4 hours to what is already a long day for me – and one that leaves me with perhaps another 3 or 4 hours to select, process and caption the pictures I’ve taken. It would be rather quicker if I didn’t keep dozing off at the keyboard while doing it, my finger on a key sending Lightroom into a frenzy of paging through the images which takes minutes to recover. And sometimes the doze is deep enough for my nose to hit the keyboard…

MfJ have come in for considerable criticism following their treatment of one member over a personal issue, which has led to a number of groups refusing to work with them. While some of the criticisms appear to be justified, others suggested a remarkable ignorance about the organisation, which has never hidden its background and organisation. It isn’t something I would join, but I admire and am happy to support the stand they have taken on several issues, and particularly on immigration and immigration detention.

But the controversy has meant smaller protests at Yarls Wood, which is a shame, although there has been a rival protest on another date which perhaps helps to keep up the pressure on the issue. And the absence of some of the other groups has made the evident support that the MfJ gets from former detainees even more obvious. However MfJ decides on and organises the events, it is the former detainees who make the great majority of the speeches and lead most of the chanting and other activities during the protests, and my pictures show this clearly.

It’s clear too how welcome the protests are to those people, women and families, held inside Yarl’s Wood who are able to get to one of the windows which overlook the protest, or to make contace with the protesters by mobile phone, despite the efforts of the guards inside to keep them away. It’s difficult to photograph the windows through the close grid of the top 10 feet of fence, and the windows have limiters to only allow an inch or two of opening, but one woman has managed to get both hards through the narrow gap and make a heart shape with her fingers, surrounded by messages for help.

It’s something of a trek back from the field where the protest takes place to the road, through several fields and a short stretch of byway, and the fields are heavy going on a bicycle, often easier to get off and walk than to try and ride.  It it’s been wet there is mud which is slippery and soon builds up between wheel and mudguard on the Brompton, stopping the wheels from turning, and when the ground is dry the mud hardens into ridges and furrows which jolt the arms and can even throw you off the bike.

But once back on the road you can relax in the long downhill stretch to the A6,  though it’s annoying to have to brake for a few wiggles as you get near the main road. And when you leave the A6 cycle path to go up to the old road trough Clapham the first quarter mile is a steep climb. I have cycled all the way up, but its taxing, and this time I got off and walked, and even that was exhausting. But then its largely a gentle downhill all the way to the station and I had plenty of time to relax on a slow train to St Pancras.

Shut Down Yarl’s Wood 14

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There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, a small donation – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

To order prints or reproduce images

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Against Trump and Robinson

Wednesday, November 7th, 2018

It was a day of strong emotions in Westminster, with rival rallies. Having been attacked by right-wing protesters at the previous ‘Free Tommy’ rally in Whitehall I had decided to leave the reporting of the far right protest at Downing St to my less recognisable colleagues. Although I’ve covered many events on the right, and tried to do so without distortion – and been commended by some on the right for my objective reporting – I’ve also been featured in photographs and named on right-wing hate web sites, with their suggestions that photographers like me are an enemy that should be roughed up or worse.

So I began taking pictures at the Stand Up To Racism and Unite Against Fascism rally in Old Palace Yard opposite the House of Lords, where speakers included a number of trade unionists – such as the PCS speaker above –  as well as Green Party MEP for London  Jean Lambert  and Weyman Bennett from Stand Up to Racism. I arrived after the event started, having rushed there from Croydon Pride, so I may have missed some, but I was suprised not to see or hear any Labour MPs.

The plan had been for those at the rally to march behind a lorry carrying their sound system to Parliament St and continue the rally closer to the extreme right protest, with police keeping a couple of hundred yards between the two events. But police refused to allow the lorry to move from where it was parked on Abingdon St. There was a bitter argument between the organisers and police who gave no coherent reason for the decision, which appeared to many to be politically motivated, but eventually the march which had been kept waiting for a long time proceeded without the powerful sound system.

Where Bridge Street runs in to Parliament Square, the Stand Up to Racism march was greeted  by a large group of anti-fascists who had met south of the river and come across Westminster Bridge, and a number of smoke flares were set off. Also on the corner were some small groups of right-wingers who were abusing the anti-fascists, with police trying to keep the two groups apart.

The Stand Up to Racism march continued up Parliament St to the police barrier across the bottom of Whitehall and held a further rally there, although without the lorry they could only use a smaller amplification system, and the speeches were inaudible for much of the crowd.

After having taken a few pictures of the speakers and the front of the crowd where they could be heard, I wandered back down towards Parliament Square, where the anti-fascist crowd was forming a barrier across the end of Parliament St, with police present in front of them.

There was a further police line across Bridge St, and beyond it I could see a larger group of right-wing football fans, being stopped by police from moving towards Parliament Square. There were a few of them roaming around the square, with police talking to them and trying to persuade them to leave. One of those, in front of Parliament was wearing a lurid t-shirt showing a young woman posing provocatively with various tattoos including a red rose and across her stomach below her half-exposed breasts in flowing script was ‘England’.

See more at:

Against Tommy Robinson & Trump
Whitehall rally against extreme-right
Anti-Fascists & Police harassed by hooligans

______________________________________________________

There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, a small donation – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

To order prints or reproduce images

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Croydon Pride

Tuesday, November 6th, 2018

01p60213
Croydon, 2001

I have mixed feelings about Croydon, another place in London where I have shown work in group shows in the past, and which I have photographed, particularly for its tram system, taken in 2001. You can see my pictures along ‘Line 1’ in Croydon Tramlink. It was an unusual project for me in that the pictures on-line were taken on 6×7 rather than 35mm film; as well as these medium format images I also worked with a panoramic camera as you can see above, though I’ve yet to get around to adding these pictures to the web site as promised.

I still visit Croydon reasonably frequently, either to visit or meet friends, and for the occasional protest, particularly those about immigration issues at Lunar House. But on Saturday 14th July I was there for ‘Croydon Pride’, photographing the procession through the centre of the town to the third annual Croydon Pridefest in Wandle Park, sponsored by Croydon Council and said to be the second largest Pride Festival in the capital. I’d given the main London Pride a miss this year, but thought it would be good to cover a much smaller and less corporate event.

It was a much smaller and more intimate event than London Pride, and I enjoyed meeting some of those taking part and photographing them. There had been fears that anti-trans activists would try to disrupt the event, but fortunately they did not materialise, and the march was a show of support for trans people, with a large banner for TransPALS, (Trans People Across London South) and others carrying flgs and placards in support.

I was sorry to have to leave the march soon after the start to make my way back to central London from East Croydon station, but other things were happening there I didn’t want to miss.

More pictures at Croydon Pride Procession

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There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, a small donation – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

To order prints or reproduce images

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Workers protest Univ of London hypocrisy

Monday, November 5th, 2018

While the University of London holds events in favour of women’s rights in its #LeadingWomen season which aims ‘to break down the barriers women still face in education and the workplace today’, it is still denying decent terms & conditions to migrant and BAME women who work there, by using outsourcing companies which offer minimal rights, often with bullying management and zero hours contracts.

The IWGB union which represents low paid workers in the University’s central administration decided to hold a protest on the night one of these events was taking place, and contacted the two women who had agreed to speak, explaining the situation to them. Ayesha Hazarika and Catherine Mayer cancelled their appearances at the #leadingwomen event and instead came to speak at the protest. The university had to call off its event.

Other ‘Leading Women’ who spoke at the meeting included Mildred Simpson, who led the succesful LSE campaign by the United Voices of the World union to be brought in-house, and Newham Cllr Belgica Guania, the first Ecuadorian councillor in the UK.

The university fails to recognise the IWGB which a majority of the low-paid workers belong to, but has been forced to respond to their demands by a series of high-profile protests and strikes. It has now agreed in principle to bring these employees, currently employed by cost-cutting cleaning contracting firms back into direct employment by the university, but is refusing to engage with them on when and how this might happen.

The dispute is not only about conditions of service – sick pay, holiday pay, pensions, maternity pay – but also about having a management which respects the dignity of the workers and is also concerned with getting a good quality of service rather than cutting corners and overworking staff to cut costs. Often workers have to accept bullying and unsafe working practices and a failure to provide proper equipment by contractors to keep their jobs.

UoL #LeadingWomen protest hypocrisy

______________________________________________________

There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, a small donation – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

To order prints or reproduce images

________________________________________________________

Trump, Trump, Trump…

Sunday, November 4th, 2018

It was a week of protests against Trump, certainly making very clear the point that Trump is not welcome here. And of course he isn’t – there must be very few outside a few Conservative MPs who really think it was a good idea to invite him, and their number must have dwindled at seeing the farce of a visit that public opinion forced on the government.

Trump’s only contact with London was to walk a few yards to and from a helicopter to the house of the US Ambassador where he spent a night in the large estate in Regent’s Park, surrounded by a huge security operation behind a tall fence. I suspect police had advised that it would not be possible to ensure he would be able to travel on London’s roads to either Buckingham Palace or the US Embassy at Nine Elms. It had been thought that the visit had been arranged for the President to officially open the embassy, but he described it as as ‘lousy’ and ‘horrible’, and refused to go there.

The week started with a protest there, organised by Momentum Wandsworth. Sensibly the protest was held on the main road in front of the entrance to the embassy garden, where workers in the embassy come out on foot, and also the protest could be seen by those going along the fairly busy road.

The embassy is built on a site with a radical tradition, as one of the protesters reminded us, wearing a suffragette sash in memory of one of the leading suffragettes, Charlotte Despard who lived and worked there.

There was a large and noisy protest in Regent’s Park when his helicopter arrived, and the protesters intended to keep up the noise all night until he flew off to a military base to be safe from protesters. Being Trump he will have boasted they were there to welcome him as he walked from the helicopter to the house, where I suspect effective double glazing will have kept out the sound. We did see the helicopter fly in, but the landing site was out of view.

Later that evening, protesters dropped a giant banner with the message ‘TRUMP: CLIMATE GENOCIDE’ over the river wall opposite the Houses of Parliament. The protesters say that by wilfully ignoring the clear science on climate change he is threatening the existence of human life on earth. It seemed a very good and clear reason to protest against him.

I didn’t get to Chequers or Windsor Castle, but there were protests at both. In London on Friday there were several protests, two on a large scale. The first, organised by women and supported by a wide range of women’s groups, highlighted his misogyny, but also protested more generally with what was described as as a day of joy, love, solidarity and resistance celebrating the diverse communities which make up our great city of London, standing together for Justice, Equality and Peace. It was against Trump and others whose agendas driven by desire for profit, greed, power & domination are ‘wreaking havoc – fuelling conflict; displacing vast numbers from their homes; waging war on our rights; destroying our planet.’

This march with tens of thousands was still making its way through London’s streets when a second and much larger march, estimated at a quarter of a million people, organised by ‘Together Against Trump’ began, on its way to a rally in Traflagar Square, though by the time I arrived there, the square was already full to capacity. Owen Jones had begun the Stop Trump Coalition in February with grassroots campaigners, trade unions, NGOs and politicians and others, including SWP members, had formed ‘Stand Up to Trump’, which also took part in the march.

I walked through Soho, which had people on almost every street with posters and placards, most intending to join one or other of the two big marches. There was a TV crew touring the area with two actors impersonating Trump and First Lady Melania, though not particularly well, but I had come for the marathon ‘Revolution Day’ street protest party against Trump’s visit organised by Soho Radio, which was meant to start at mid-day and continue at least until midnight. It wasn’t really happening on my first visit, so I returned later to take more pictures, and then again after photographing the main march, by which time things had really got going, though I think it would have got even more interesting in another hour or two, by which time I was having dinner elsewhere.

US Embassy protest says NO to Trump
Noise protest against Trump
‘Trump: Climate Genocide’ Giant banner
‘Bring The Noise’ Women march against Trump
Massive protest against Trump’s Visit
Soho parties to protest Trump’s visit
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My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

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Sutton KOSHH March

Saturday, November 3rd, 2018


The protest march reaches the St Helier open space in front of the hospital

I don’t often go to Sutton, a town in South London, part of Surrey that was absorbed into Greater London in the local government reforms of 1965.  It really isn’t a place there is much to go there for, unless you need to shop, and there are plenty of other places for that.  I did spend a little time in the area in 1997  when I was photographing London and its buildings, though I think I found relatively little to interest me in Sutton itself. Since then then only time I can remember returning is when with seven friends we put on a photography show in the library there in 2007.

One of the campaigns that I’ve come across regularly taking part in various protests about the NHS, against cuts in services, creeping privatisation and hospital closures has been KOSSH, a slightly sinister sounding name standing for ‘Keep our St Helier Hospital ‘, and when I got an email telling me about their planned march celebrating the 70th anniversary of the NHS and against the plans of the Epsom and St Helier trust to close A&E, Maternity, Paediatrics, Emergency Medicine and Surgery, Intensive Care, Coronary Care and the Cancer Centre at one or both hospitals and sell off the sites, I was interested to join them and photograph the event.

Of course, as so often it wasn’t the only event I would like to have covered. Also taking place in Central London was the annual Pride march, which I’ve photographed most years since the early 1990s, as well as several other local events. But Pride isn’t what it was, and the march in particular has become such a corporate event that I’ve rather lost interest in photographing it. Last year’s event had been enlivened by the Anti-Racist & Migrant Rights Pride march, which had managed to take pride of place at the front of the main event (though only because they were not allowed to join the main march) but there appeared to be nothing like that planned this year, though later I heard that a group of anti-trans feminists had put in an appearance.

So my plan for the day had been to go to Sutton and photograph the march, then go into Soho and photograph on the streets there after the official march. But it was a very hot day, and by the time I had marched all the way to St Helier Hospital and photographed the short rally there,  I was exhausted, and caught the two trains to take me home for a cool drink and a rest.

St Helier Hospital (the site includes the Queen Mary children’s hospital) is one of the few buildings in the area that had attracted my attention back in the 1997, on high ground a mile or two north of the centre of Sutton, in one of the largest council-built estates in London. The St Helier Estate was a ‘garden city’ cottage  overspill estate built by the London County Council between 1928 and 1936 outside of London,  and with over 9000 homes was the largest such development by the LCC other than Becontree, and the hospital there, in a modern style, was opened in 1938.

Closing either of the hospitals would lead to longer emergency journeys in what is often a very congested part of London.  The full range of services would only be available at St Georges in Tooting. Back in 2003 I sat in an ambulance for around an hour stuck in traffic on my way there – until one of the medics accompanying me suggested I might have an emergency – and even then with blue lights flashing our progress was slow. The proposed cuts would reduce services at a time when needs are increasing and are proposed only to save money to meet government cuts which call for huge savings by the trust.

The die-in at the end of the march wasn’t huge, and quite a few of those who started the march, including several in poor health, didn’t manage to complete it in the summer heat, though I’m sure none actually died. But it made the point that hospital closures will lead to people dying, particularly those needing emergency treatment.

More at NHS at 70 – Save St Helier Hospital

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There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, a small donation – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

To order prints or reproduce images

________________________________________________________