Fair Pay Now!

It’s always hard to estimate the numbers taking part in large marches, and this was certainly a large march, with perhaps around 15,000 being a reasonable estimate. At the start, as people gathered outside Broadcasting House – fast becoming a popular starting point for protests as more and more groups get tired of the way that the BBC ignores or marginalises most UK protests, it was certainly very difficult to move around for the crowd in the road and to find the space needed between camera and subject. Most of the pictures from before the start of the march were taken around the edges of the packed crowd, and as usual I was looking for things that would tell the story, as well as meeting people that I knew.

Sometimes the two things came together, as in the picture of Jasmin Stone and her daughter and others from Focus E15 Mums in front of Broadcasting House – and there are other faces in some other pictures that regular visitors to My London Diary will recognise.


Another view of Broadcasting House, where reporters were careful not to really notice what was happening outside

But there were many here who are not regular protesters – and some told me this was their first protest march, and others that they seldom take part in such things. A number of trade unions had called a one day strike, and groups like the teachers are so fed up with being ‘Goved’ that they had turned out in force for the march, though I was surprised that only the NUT were supporting it.


‘Education – cuts never heal’ – ‘Guck Fove’

I always find¬† the large balloons that some unions like to take on their marches are a problem to photograph,so high that they are difficult to connect with the people on the ground. Designed to be visible from a distance, they aren’t ideal for photographers like me who like to work close, where even with a wide-angle they are hard to include. The NUT Scissors with their message ‘Education – cuts never heal’ are rather more interesting,and I was pleased to be able to combine them with a strong message about Mr Gove, who shortly afterwards lost his job, not because of the havoc he has wreaked destroying what system there is in our education, but because of his silly squabbles with Teresa May.

There was just so much to photograph while the march was forming up, and it was so crowded that although I’d been keeping an eye on my watch, I actually just missed the start of the march, which I’d intended to photograph with Broadcasting House in the background. But by the time I made it back to the start, they had started very¬† punctually and already moved a couple of hundred yards down the road. It isn’t a great picture, but it does show the flags (and balloons) of some of the main unions involved, GMB (just), NUT, Unite, PCS and Unison. There is also what seems to be a Portuguese flag (and I think I know who would have been carrying it) but more important to me in framing the picture, on top of Broadcasting House, the Union Jack.

This was a fairly short march, only a little over a mile to Trafalgar Square, but marches usually go fairly slowly. I waited until the end had gone past me close to Oxford Circus, around a quarter mile from the start (it took 50 minutes), then rushed along the route to the end, only stopping a couple of times to take more pictures and arriving before most of the marchers more or less as the rally was starting.


Workers from the Ritzy cinema in Brixton who are striking for the London living wage

As well as photographing the speakers, there were also people in the crowd to photograph, including those responding to the speeches in the picture at the top of this post. I managed to photograph the Ritzy strikers in front of one of the lions just before too many other photographers arrived and started walking in front of them.

The London Fire Brigade Union banner, standing against the plinth of Nelson’s column to one side behind the speakers made a splendid backdrop for the FBU leader Matt Wrack, although it was perhaps less appropriate for some of the other speakers. I was also careful to frame so as to get the message on his FBU t-shirt ‘We rescue people, not banks – Stop the cuts‘, the first part of which is a quotation from Spanish fire-fighters when asked to assist in the eviction of people unable to keep up with their mortgage payments.

I was also pleased to see and photograph Mark Serwotka of PCS who I knew had been ill, but was certainly in fiery form at this event. It wasn’t until almost two months later that we all heard how great his health problems are, and how remarkable he has been in coping with them.

More pictures from the march and rally at Public Service Workers Strike for Fair Pay.


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

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