Posts Tagged ‘London’

WeWork doesn’t pay

Thursday, March 5th, 2020

I’d never heard of WeWork before I received an Facebook post inviting me to photograph a protest outside one of their London premises in Shoreditch. The company began in 2010, has its HQ in New York and provides flexible working spaces for companies from 1 to 500 people, equipped, serviced and ready to move in. In London alone it has 49 locations providing shared facilities.

When we started WeWork in 2010, we wanted to build more than beautiful, shared office spaces. We wanted to build a community. A place you join as an individual, ‘me’, but where you become part of a greater ‘we’. A place where we’re redefining success measured by personal fulfillment, not just the bottom line. Community is our catalyst.

But community doesn’t extend to all that work there, and in particular not to the cleaners who keep these shared office and community spaces beautiful. WeWork outsource their cleaning to cleaning company CCM.

Outsourcing is always a bad deal for workers. The companies bid for contracts almost entirely on price, and they pare down prices by screwing the workers. Low pay, high workloads, the legal minimum terms and conditions and often a lack of equipment and concern over safety combined with bullying management enable outsourcing companies to keep costs to the bone and profits to the company owners.

Trade unions are anathema to such companies, and also to many US based firms, and grass roots unions such as CAIWU who manage the difficult job of unionising marginal and often immigrant workers find it hard to get basic rights for their members. Workers who stand up for their rights get victimised, and CAIWU were protesting here as five CAIWU members have been dismissed here in the past few months, with Wework staff members involved in getting CCM to dismiss them.

The loud protest outside the offices attracted a great deal of attention, with one local business owner coming to ask them to keep quiet and one man stopping to argue with the protesters, getting quite angry and pushing some of them. But these were the exceptions and many others read the fliers that the protesters were handing out and expressed support, including one team of workers who came out from the building and join the protest.

More at: Wework stop victimising cleaners


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.


Old Street New Photos

Wednesday, March 4th, 2020

I live just a couple of miles outside the Greater London boundary, two miles that cost me around £1500 a year in travel costs, though I might be saving a little in council tax. I live in the only area of what used to be Middlesex which wasn’t included in Greater London when the boundaries were established in the 1960s, though the town I live in is fairly typical of outer London. But the posh Tories down the road who ran the local council at the time rose up against becoming a part of the London Borough of Hounslow and opted the whole area to become part of Surrey with their wealthy chums across the river.

So while Londoners of my age got a Freedom Pass, now valid at all times on London Underground, London Overground, Bus, Tram, and Docklands Light Railway services in Greater London as well as rail services between 9.30am and 11.30pm, instead I got a national bus pass, giving free rides only on the buses. And where practicable my normal mode of travel around London is by bus.

When time is limited or bus journeys far to slow I do use the Underground (or Overground or Rail) to get around London and pay. And on days where the traffic is paralysed by large-scale protests or sporting events I’ll take the tube as well, either using a London-wide Travelcard or using a contactless card.

Other than cost, and for some journeys speed (though it can be quicker to use the bus or walk) there are some advantages to bus travel. Thanks to most London routes being served by double-deckers you are treated to some splendid views of the capital from viewpoints that would otherwise be impossible. It’s a poor man’s cherry-picker, and these pictures of the Old Street roundabout and some nearby locations show this well.

The Old Street roundabout was constructed at the height of brutalist architecture in the 60s, with some very odd concrete shapes at its core on top of Old Street Tube station, some underground shops and a public toilet in an area known as St Agnes Well. It’s an area I’ve often visited for convenience and travel, and sometimes for photography over the years.

Work has been going on for some time to replace the roundabout by a smoother two-way traffic flow with improved cycling and pedestrian routes and a new public open space and is due for completion later this year. The area around the roundabout has also changed in recent years with new large blocks on the south side as well as a gigantic suspended advertising block. A cluster of software houses in some of these new buildings have led to a new name, Silicon Roundabout.

I was able to photograph from the bus going through the now ex-roundabout both west to east and in the reverse direction along Old St after photographing a protest not far away. And with various traffic lights and queues in operation the bus stopped several times at convenient locations for my pictures.

More pictures at Clerkenwell Road & Old St.


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.

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, please share on social media.
And small donations via Paypal – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.


South Circular Protest

Monday, March 2nd, 2020

London’s air quality is a disgrace with around 2 million people living in areas which have illegal levels of air pollution. Academic studies suggest that there are almost 10,000 premature deaths every year due to the high levels of pollution, and huge levels of pollution related illness.

I can just about remember hearing at the time about the 1952 Great Smog in London, when visibility went down to around a foot and traffic simply had to stop. It was thought to have killed around 12,000 people and the severity led to a Clean Air Act that outlawed coal fires in the city – and we had to switch to Coalite and coke. The smog wasn’t quite so dramatic on the outskirts of the city where we lived, but it was certainly unpleasant, and wrapping scarves around your face if you had to go out wasn’t very effective. And even inside the house, the air wasn’t quite clear.

The air looks much cleaner now, though I still get dirty shirt collars from trips into the city, but the dangers are there if invisible. High levels of nitrogen oxides and other gases, as well as particles too small to be visible. And there are local hot spots around major road junctions and busy roads, often creating up to five times the legal limit for air pollution in Central London and around major roads elsewhere. Road traffic is a major factor in these illegal levels which peak at certain times during the day, particularly during the rush hours. Another peak occurs not far from where I live, around Heathrow and any airport expansion would bring extra road traffic to add to this as well as the pollution from more aircraft.

Boris Johnson when London Mayor failed to take any effective action, but under Sadiq Khan there have been some reductions, with a change to hybrid diesel-electric buses, regulations for new taxis to be electric and the setting up of Ultra-Low Emission Zones, currently covering the inner-city congestion zone, but withe a Low Emission Zone for heavy goods vehicles extending to a wider area of Greater London later this year.

The effects of air pollution and particularly bad for the elderly and those with pre-existing lung conditions who largely make up those who die prematurely, but also for children whose lungs and other organs are still growing and are stunted by pollution, with up to 10% lower capacity than those who live in cleaner air. Many primary and secondary schools in London are in areas with high pollution.

Parents in Catford in South East London whose children live and go to schools close to the South Circular Road are concerned for the health of their children and organised a march and rally calling on Lewisham Council to take bolder and faster action to reduce air pollution, particularly around schools.  Although Lewisham isn’t responsible for the high traffic levels on the route there are remedial measures that can reduce local levels of pollutants such as planting screens of trees and hedges which can drastically reduce the levels of minute particles in particular. Putting barriers on some roads near schools to prevent through traffic would also help. Better cycling provision and bus services can also help to reduce traffic and thus pollution.

More at Clean Air for Catford Children.


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.

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, please share on social media.
And small donations via Paypal – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.


London’s longest running protest

Sunday, March 1st, 2020

The weekly vigil outside the Zimbabwe Embassy at 429 Strand has been taking place since 12th October 2002, and I’ve occasionally visited it and usually taken photographs, including on its 15th anniversary in 2017. But with long-running events such as this it’s always difficult to find a reason to make it news and to provide something visually different.

I’d been reminded of it as the bus I was on earlier in the day passed the area in which it is held, a small square of flower beds and trees on a wide pavement, quite unlike anywhere else I can think of in London, with the embassy at its right, and after photographing a protest in Trafalgar Square it was only a few yards out of my way to Charing Cross Station where I was to catch a train to cover another event, so I went to take a few more pictures.

What gave the event a little more news interest was the death of former President Mugabe two weeks earlier at the age of 95. There had been some hope that his removal from office in November 2017 would lead to reforms – and his successor Emmerson Mnangagwa promised them.

But Mnangagwa had been Mugabe’s right-hand man for 40 years, and stands accused of the genocide of over 20,000 Ndebeles in the 1980s. Despite his promises, he has delivered state terrorism and protesters have been killed, beaten, tortured and raped by the security forces.

One man held up a placard with a long indictment of the ruling ZANU-PF party, “a dictatorial regime run by murderers“. It goes on to say they “are corrupt and greedy,” and that while they go overseas for medical care they leave “Zimabawean citizens to suffer without adequate healthcare – this has led to a widespread strike of Zimbabwean doctors. This is why we are here today, supporting Movement for Democratic Change“.

I couldn’t stay long or I would have missed by train, You can see a few more pictures at Zimbabwe protests continue.


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.


XR Youth International

Saturday, February 29th, 2020

I had hurried back to central London to photograph an event in Trafalgar Square by Extinction Rebellion Youth International  but I had no idea what they intended to do, and I walked a couple of times around the square and saw no sign of them.

It isn’t unusual to find an event that has been posted on the Internet but doesn’t actually take place. People sometimes have an idea, set up an event on Facebook or some other listing site, then either forget about it or give up when they have failed to persuade anyone else to join them and don’t bother to post that it isn’t happening. And sometimes dates or times or locations are changed and unless you check you will be at the wrong place or at the wrong time. And some organisations can be relied on almost always to turn up late.

So I’d more or less given up on XR Youth and was thinking about photographing a couple of other things I’d seen on my way to the square when I saw a group walking into the middle of the square, some of them holding posters and I walked across and began taking pictures

They formed a large circle in the centre of the square and then sat down in silence facing outwards. And that appeared to be it, though someone did at some point make a short statement. I walked around the circle and took pictures. Some had face paint, quite a few had small XR symbols on their clothes or faces and one held up an XR flag. It seemed a very low-key protest and certainly attracted relatively little attention from the tourists who were wandering around.

There was a certain element of defiance in it. The bylaws actually prohibit protests in Trafalgar Square unless they have prior permission, but this one apparently went unnoticed by the ‘Heritage Wardens’ whose role is to enforce the regulations. They probably thought it was just another group of tourists sitting down to eat their sandwiches. Perhaps their photographs and mine, published on the web, are more important in gaining attention than the event itself.

As a static protest it would not have been illegal on the North Terrace up the steps in front of the National Gallery, which is still legally a part of the public highway, though a part that has now been pedestrianised for some years.

But rather curiously the rest of the square is the property of the Greater London authority, with bylaws set by the Mayor of London. It’s actually an offence to take photographs there, though tourists are seldom if ever prevented from doing so. And an outcry by my union and other bodies representing news photographers means that those of us with Press cards are allowed to use our cameras.

More at XR Youth International.


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.


Global Climate Strike in Whitehall

Monday, February 24th, 2020

I arrived back in central London to find Climate Strike protesters sitting down and blocking Whitehall and police threatening them with arrest, with several people being led away to waiting police vans.

There weren’t a huge number of protesters around, but soon they were joined by a large crowd of mainly school students who had marched up from Parliament Square.

Seeing a line of police across Whitehall they turned right down Horseguards Ave, going up Whitehall Court into Whitehall Place. Police formed a line across the road at the junction with Northumberland Ave and the students sat down on the road.

They had a few short speeches and chanted slogans for some time here, with the police trying for some reason to get them to get up and move. I couldn’t see why the police wanted them to move, as there is little traffic along this road and it was rather effectively keeping the students out of the way, but when the police began indicating they would make arrests, the crowd got up and moved away – to go back to Whitehall, a much more important route and sit down there to continue to block traffic.

By now I’d had enough of wandering around Whitehall, and it was looking likely that little more would take place, so I decided to leave them and go to another protest elsewhere.

More pictures: Global Climate Strike Protest continues

Elephant & Brixton Global Climate Strike

Saturday, February 22nd, 2020

Groups were meeting around London on Earth Day to take part in the Global Climate Strike, and I went to two of them which I could travel to reasonably quickly by tube.

People were gathering outside the London College of Communication, part of the University of the Arts London, where a group had obviously been busy making Climate Strike posters.

A group left to march to Southwark Council offices on Tooley St to join up with workers there and were then planning to go on to join protesters in Westminster. I left the marchers as they went past the tube station to make my way to a rally in Windrush Square, Brixton.

Teachers had brought pupils and parents to a rally in Windrush Square and I arrived in time for the last quarter hour of so, including a short address by one of the local MPs as well as by some of the children and others.

I left as the rally ended and the organisers began to get everyone ready to take the tube to Westminster and join the protests there, making my own way to central London ahead of them.

More pictures at Elephant & Brixton Global Climate Strike.


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.

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, please share on social media.
And small donations via Paypal – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.


Earth Day

Friday, February 21st, 2020

There was a huge turnout for the Global Climate Strike on Earth Day, with many organised groups from schools attending, and an incredible range of hand-made posters.

Way down Millbank there was a lorry where speakers and groups were performing, but the street was so crowded it was hard to get through to it. At one point I went down a side street and made my way forward a block to reach the front.

Once I’d photographed the people at the front of the crowd I slowly made my way back through the crowd, photographing groups of people with placards. The crowd was tightly packed and I often had to squeeze through, but people moved to let me through, sometimes even before I had asked. Getting enough space between me and those I wanted to photograph was however often difficult. Most of these pictures were made with the Fuji XT1 and the Fuji 10-24mm zoom, mainly at or close to its widest setting, equivalent to 15mm on full-frame.

Eventually I was free of the close-packed crowd, but there were still a large number of protesters in front of Parliament and in Parliament Square.

Although the main rally was in the morning, other groups were also meeting in London, some coming to Westminster later, and I left to photograph some of these.

Global Climate Strike Rally


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.

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, please share on social media.
And small donations via Paypal – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.


Trans+ Pride

Monday, February 17th, 2020

Stonewall tell us that:

One in five LGBT people have experienced a hate crime because of their sexual orientation or gender identity in the last year.

The number of lesbian, gay and bi people who have experienced a hate crime has risen by 78 per cent since 2013.

https://www.stonewall.org.uk/cy/node/57287

But they go on to state that things are even worse for the trans community:

Two in five trans people have experienced a hate crime or incident because of their gender identity in the last year, compared to one in six lesbian, gay or bi people who are not trans.

Two in five who identify as non-binary have experienced a hate crime in the last year.

14 per cent of trans people do not feel safe where they live. 44 per cent of trans people avoid certain streets because they do not feel safe, compared to 26 per cent of lesbian, gay or bi people who are not trans.

https://www.stonewall.org.uk/cy/node/57287

Trans people have particularly come under attack in print and on the media by a small group of largely ageing feminists, who have been labelled ‘trans exclusionary radical feminists‘ or ‘TERFs’ though these people object to the label, calling it a slur. Some of them use the rather non-specific term ‘gender critical’. Wikipedia says TERF is “used to describe feminists who express ideas that other feminists consider transphobic, such as the claim that trans women are not women, opposition to transgender rights and exclusion of trans women from women’s spaces and organizations.”

TERFs have disrupted various events including the 2018 Pride Procession and the London Anarchist Bookfair 2017. As well as TERFs, trans people are under attack form some Conservative religious groups and people on the far right including so-called MRAs, men’s rights activists. Odd bedfellows for feminists.

Stonewall was an appropriate source for my information for various reasons. It was the 1969 Stonewall riots that kick-started the whole gay rights movement, a time when gays first stood up against the police raids on gay clubs, and the main figures who led that defiance were three ‘women of color’, two of whom were trans women the third a butch lesbian. The ‘T’ has always been an integral part of the LGBT community, and transgender people have become much more visible in recent years.

There were fears that there might be some disruption of London’s First Trans+ Pride March by TERFs or other transphobic groups, but if there were any protesters against the march I didn’t see them.


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.

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, please share on social media.
And small donations via Paypal – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.


Rape Crisis in South Africa

Sunday, February 16th, 2020

Protesters met in Trafalgar Square to protest following the rape and murder of Uyinene Mrwetyana one of many such crimes against women in South Africa. The protest was in solidarity with those in the country which are calling on the government there to declare a state of emergency against gender-based violence, and to protest against gender-based violence across the world.

Protesters had been asked to dress in black and the vast majority had done so. Most of those protesting were women and the vast majority of gender-based crimes are against women. One woman held up a poster with the message ‘The Tortured Screams Of Millions Of Women Will Inevitably Be Drowned Out By the Pathetic Chorus Of “Good Guys” Mumbling “Not All Men.”‘

Another, rather more positively asked ‘Men: This Is Global Man-Made Crisis, What Action Are You Taking?’ though I was rather sorry that she was holding it upside-down when I took the picture showing her.

After the rally in Trafalgar Square, the protesters moved to South Africa House where they lit candles and put many of their posters against the wall of the closed High Commission.

The building and the crowd of protesters around provided some shade which just about made the flames visible in the middle of a bright sunny day.

More at Criminal Abuse of Women in South Africa.


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.

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, please share on social media.
And small donations via Paypal – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.