Trade Union Turks Protest

The protest at the Turkish Embassy on Friday 21st was called by the London Taksim Solidarity Committee and the trade unions, including international trade unions and the TUC, and I think there was relatively little overlap between these protesters and those I had photographed the previous Sunday. As well as international unions including the  ITF (International Transport Workers’ Federation) and IUF (International Union of Food workers), there were also people from Unite, RMT, PCS, UCU and NUT at the protest, several of whom spoke, and the main attraction for the bunch of photographers present was Frances O’Grady, the TUC General Secretary.

I’ve photographed her a number of times, and unlike some other public figures she is always a pleasure to photograph, going out of her way to make sure photographers get their pictures. And the group of trade unionists and others going across the road with their arms linked to take a letter to the Turkish Embassy certainly made a good picture of solidarity. I’d watched (and photographed) them getting ready for it, but it wasn’t until they were halfway across the road that I got a clear picture of the whole line without anyone standing between me and them, and by then it seemed a little less dynamic, and as they got closer my frame was filled by other photographers running across in front of me to get close to the embassy door.

I moved back and slightly to the side. The second image is full frame and you can see one photographer’s foot at the extreme left, but I don’t think it was in the viewfinder and I wouldn’t normally hesitate to crop it out.  But I was in a rush to get the images on-line after the event and didn’t, nor as you can see did I get rid of the slight red cast that the Nikon autobalance has given the image.  O’Grady stands out in part as the only woman in the line of nine, but also because of the forward lean of her body, almost as if she is pulling the rest of them forward, and the white rectangle of the letter she is holding.

After this there were a few moments of confusion as the group unlinked arms; the police on duty decided that only one person should go up the steps to deliver the letter. And up she went, the press moving behind her to the bottom of the steps as she rang the bell.

I’d been about the first photographer on the spot and had chosen my position well (and with a little luck) looking at the door and the brass plate and where she would stand, but really it was her performance and the sheer delight she had in it that I think makes the image. Though it didn’t make the Turks inside come to the door! Which gave us plenty of time for some more pictures, and for her to play up to the cameras.

Of course public figures like her share a common interest with the press, but they don’t always seem to recognise this. I’m lucky not to want to photograph pop stars.

Of course there were others at the protest, and my favourite images came from some of the Turks from Halk Cephesi, variously translated as ‘Popular Front’ or ‘People’s Front’, though I’m not sure either gives the right impression in English.

This is one of several images that I particularly liked, I think here because of the almost symmetrical figure in the middle with arms over each other in front of his body. But the head disappearing into the red flags and apron at the left is important, and almost balanced by the third head in the image at right. It’s a nice touch to have some blue at both edges – and also the blue shirt of the central figure.  There are a couple more I rather like on My London Diary, along with other pictures that help to round out the story, TUC Support for Turkish Protests. There are some others of Frances O’Grady I like too.


My London Diary : Buildings of London : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

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

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