Posts Tagged ‘mining’

Ten Years Ago – 30 Nov 2011

Tuesday, November 30th, 2021

Occupy protesters outrun police down Haymarket

Ten years ago today on Wednesday 30th November the TUC called a one day general strike over the government plans to cut public service pensions and their failure to enter any meaningful discussion with the trade unions on them.

The Southern & Eastern Region of the TUC, SERTUC, organised a march and rally in London, and at least 20,000 people came for a peaceful march through the capital. At the head of the march was TUC Deputy General Secretary Frances O’Grady, along with leaders of several of the other unions and professional associations taking part in today’s strike by public sector workers.

Frances O’Grady, Dep Gen Sec of the TUC and NASUWT president John Rimmer and a French trade unionist

Along with many strikers, including many taking strike action and marching for the first time there were also others who came to join them, including students and groups including UK Uncut and activist groups such as the Education Activist Network and other student groups, and a number of people wearing ‘Anonymous’ Guy Fawkes ‘V for Vendetta’ masks.

Some of these people began walking ahead of the official march and police stretched a line of officers across Aldwych stopping both them and the march behind them, but eventually they let the march continue. Although the march was going to Parliament along the Embankment, police had closed off Whitehall and created more traffic chaos than the large march.

UK Uncut had come to support the march and were handing out cups of tea from a yard in front of some offices on the square in what they called a ‘solidaritea!!’ action to support the strike.

Later around a hundred protesters from Occupy London rushed into the building in which mining company Xstrata has its offices in a protest against Mick Davies, its CEO, who they say “is a prime example of the greedy 1% lining their own pockets while denying workers pensions.”

They met at Picadilly Circus under the eyes of around a hundred police watching and photographing them from the steps around Eros, and after around half and hour in intermittent rain a small group rushed across the road to stand outside a branch of Boots with a banner reading ‘Precarious Workers Brigade’, but made no attempt to enter the store, which then quickly put down its metal shutters.

Protesters rush into Panto House

But this was just a diversion, and the rest of the group rushed down Haymarket behind a long banner reading ‘All Power to the 99%’ and then turned abruptly down Panton St and rushed into Panton House. The police had got rather left behind and were unable to stop them, and I followed in after some of the protesters, but got very out of breath rushing up the stairs.

A crowd of protesters make it hard to get up the stairs

I hadn’t picked up completely on what was happening, and failed to get up to the roof where a group of around 20 was continuing the protest against Mick Davies, CEO of mining Company Xstrata and the highest paid CEO in the UK. Police forced me and other protesters still on the stairs to go down and leave the building.

I was disappointed not to get onto the roof with other photographers, but rather pleased that, since it was impossible to take more pictures I could now go home. Those on the roof were kept there by police for rather a long time and those who had hung around on the street outside were also kettled.

See more on My London Diary:

Occupy London Expose Corporate Greed
TUC Nov 30 March


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Global South leads Climate March 2015

Monday, November 29th, 2021

Global Frontlines bloc banner ‘Still fighting CO2onialism – Your Climate Profits Kill’

Many groups came together for a march through London on 29th November 2015 about the need for action over global warming and climate change on the weekend before the Paris talks. It had been agreed that the march should be led by the Global Frontlines block, as the Global South is already being more affecte by climate change.

But on the day the organisers, representing the large groups including Avaaz, changed their mind. They decided to put the main march banner along with some of those in carnival animal costumes at the front of the march as they felt the Global Frontline was too radical, wanting system change not sops.

The organisers decided to put their main banner and a section of animal costumed carnivalistas in front to hide this more radical group, but not surprisingly the Global Frontlines group were not having this and moved back in front of the carnival. The organisers then sent in the private security guards they had employed to steward the march rather than relying as most other protests do on volunteers, with orders to hold back the more radical block and remove some of the more political placards and coffins that were being carried.

It was hardly surprising that this move was resisted, and the protesters stood their ground, and repelled the security guards. The organisers then called the police to try and enlist their help to move the bloc from the front of the march, but other than passing on the organisers’ request I understand they sensibly refused to try to illegally remove the block. The whole argument was a disgraceful attempt to de-politicise the event and to marginalise those facing the sharp end of climate change, and one which they successfully resisted.

The banner at the front of the Global Frontlines block – and thus march as a whole – read ‘STILL FIGHTING CO2ONIALISM YOUR CLIMATE PROFITS KILL‘ and there were others with anti-colonial messages including ‘Extractivism is Colonialism‘ and other anti-mining sentiments. Apparently what worried the more conservative charities most was the message ‘British Imperialism causes Climate Change‘ as well as two coffins naming companies BP and BHP Billiton.

The organisers held back the rest of the march to leave a longish gap between this group and the rest of the march led by the the ‘The People’s March for Climate & Jobs‘ banner which the organisers had tried to put in the lead, along with its white rabbit and giraffes. But when the Global Frontlines stopped and sat in the road for a protest close the offices of BP in St James Square, many of the more radical groups in the main march streamed past this banner to join the march up again.

It was an unfortunate dispute, and one that for many of us undermined the credentials of some of the more affluent protest groups, who many on the left suspect of being funded by corporations and governments to try to tame the environmental movement rather than effectively oppose climate change. It seems quite clear that without some drastic system change we are doomed to see business as usual taking us to extinction.

More about the march and many more pictures – giraffes and all – on My London Diary:
Global Frontlines lead Climate March
March for Climate Action Starts


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All photographs on this page are copyright © Peter Marshall. Contact me to buy prints or licence to reproduce.


Robert Frank’s London

Friday, November 29th, 2019

I’ve long been an admirer of Robert Frank’s pictures taken in London, and you can see a fine selection of these in the feature Extraordinary Black And White Photographs Of London In The Early 1950s.

There are at least two videos paging through the book London Wales on You Tube, and I recommend that by Алексей Гуменюк only because I think he is a better page-turner, though his commentary and the sound track perhaps add a certain charm – but you can turn the sound off if it annoys you. Of course if you have read my earlier thoughts on the book or otherwise bought it you can turn the pages yourself. It’s better.

Frank’s London is a city (and City) long lost, with men in bowler hats and men carrying sacks of coal, both enshrouded by the pea-soupers which the coal produced (and in the second part of the book, he goes to photograph the men who mined it.)

Thankfully those days of almost solid air in London are long gone, though I can just remember them. But appearances are deceptive and London’s air is still toxic, leading to huge amounts of miserable illness and an estimated almost 10,000 early deaths each year, with levels of pollutants typically well above the EU legal limits in many streets and schoolyards.

The City too has changed, though still equally toxic. We no longer have an Empire – it had already begun to disappear when Frank coughed his way through those streets, but neo-colonialism has replaced colonialism, and many of the world’s most toxic companies – for example in mining – are still London based, and the City is the money laundering capital of the world.

Anglo American

Tuesday, August 27th, 2019

I’d gone to the QEII Centre in Westminster to photograph one protest outside the AGM of London-listed mining company Anglo American, and found that there were two taking place and sharing the space not entirely happily.

I’d known well in advance that the London Mining Network were going to be there and hold a vigil because of the “unimaginable damage to communities and the planet” caused by Anglo American “through its disregard for human rights, the environmental devastation caused by its projects, and its neo-colonial policies in Colombia, Brazil, Peru, Chile, South Africa and elsewhere.”

Protesting together with them were people representing groups in some of those countries, particularly Colombia, as well as Medact, health professionals for a safer, fairer & better world, many of whom volunteer to work abroad including in areas affected by the activities of Anglo American. And among the protesters were several who had bought a single share so as to be entitled to go into the AGM and question the activities of the company in the meeting.

But there is no booking system for protests – and for static protests there is even no requirement to inform the police, though this is necessary for marches to be legal. And another group had come and set up before them on the spot they had hoped to occupy.

As it says in the search description for their web site, “Anglo American is a globally diversified mining business. Our portfolio spans diamonds (De Beers), platinum, copper, iron ore and manganese, metallurgical …” (the rest of their activities are masked by the character limit, so you can finish the sentence how you like.)

De Beers is the worlds leading diamond company. Inminds came to demand that they end their trade in Israeli blood diamonds, saying the Kimberley Process, meant to prevent the trade in diamonds that fund human rights violations is purposely neutered. De Beers supplies diamonds to Israel where they are cut and polished and produce around about $1 billion annually to bankroll the Israeli military and security industries and its horrendous human right abuses against Palestinians.

Inminds say that in 2015 Israel managed to block a proposal by the World Diamond Council that would have extended the definition of conflict diamonds “to include countries who flout human rights laws not just in mining areas but also in diamond trading centers“. 

The London Mining Network held their protest a few yards away, and not as they had intended at one of the entrances where shareholders might walk to the AGM. Although the two protests remained separate, some of those attending spent time supporting both. I’ve photographed both groups before and probably should have reported the two protests separately, but I hope the captions to my images filed made the position clear – as I think it is on My London Diary in Protests at Anglo-American mining AGM.


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