Posts Tagged ‘pay cuts’

Sparks And Students – 2011

Thursday, November 9th, 2023

Sparks And Students – On Wednesday 9th November there were protests by electricians in Southwark and police shut down most of central London to harass students as they marched to the Moorgate building of London Metropolitan University.

Sparks At The Shard – London Bridge

Sparks And Students

Around a thousand electricians – ‘sparks ‘ – marched to a protest rally at the building site for the Shard in a protest led by Unite against plans by 7 major employers to tear up national agreements and impose worse conditions and pay cuts of at least 26 %.

Sparks And Students

In 1968 major employers and the trade union had come together to set up the Electrotechnical Joint Industry Board (JIB) to set standards for the electrical industry and to provide a means of resolving the frequent disputes which were then taking place by bringing together both sides in committees with equal representation. JIB has also developed to set the standards for employment, welfare, grading and apprentice training in the electrical contracting industry.

Sparks And Students

In May 2011 seven major companies – Bailey Building Services, Balfour Beatty, Tommy Clarke, Crown House Technologies, Gratte Brothers, SES and SPIE Matthew Hall – announced that they would withdraw from the JIB pay and conditions deal and impose their own agreement known as BESNA (Building and Engineering Services National Agreement) which would enable them to replace skilled workers by those on lower grades.

Sparks And Students

Unite targeted Balfour Beatty for action as the largest company and ring-leader in the employers group and at the rally Unite General Secretary Len McCluskey announced that the union had given notice today of a strike ballot for its members employed by them. The Shard was one of Balfour Beatty’s major projects at the time, along with Crossrail.

Several hundred of the electricians had earlier held a protest in Bishopsgate and visited the Occupy London site at St Paul’s Cathedral before marching to the rally at the Shard. Police had tried to stop them at various points on their march and they arrived with a large police escort.

Before the official rally started there were speeches by rank and file trade unionist. They were followed by several Unite speakers with a final address by McClusky. Around 600 of the sparks then marched off to support the students who were protesting in London but police closed both London Bridge and Blackfriars Bridge and stopped them.

Following this and further actions by rank and file electricians Balfour Beatty, the largest of the firms in Febraury 2012 announced it was going into further talks with Unite on updating the JIB agreements and this was the end for BESNA.

More pictures on My London Diary at Sparks At The Shard.

Students March Against Cuts & Fees – Bloomsbury to Moorgate

Despite police attempts to provoke them, more than 5000 student protesters marched largely peacefully against fees increases and cuts in services. Most kept to the agreed route, from London University in Bloomsbury to London Metropolitan University in Moorgate, which was lined by thousands of police.

Students are angry about the high fees and the cuts in education – particularly the loss of the Educational Maintenace Allowances and various cuts in service, but in the early stages of the march the protesters were in a relaxed and positive mood, many talking to and joking with the police who were accompanying them.

After the police failure to stop some student fees protesters who had stormed the Tory HQ at Millbank in 2010, the police this year were determined to control events. To do so they closed all major roads in central London for hours before the march began, making it hard for many to get to the protest. There were no buses and I had to walk two miles from London Bridge and so arrived after the march started.

I could hardly see the marchers as they came down towards me on Shaftesbury Avenue, with a line of mounted police in front, followed by several lines of police on foot. Behind them were march stewards and then the main banner, behind which was a vast crowd of students and supporters carrying placards.

The march continued but with sporadic stoppages by the police for no apparent reason. But after it had come up Strand to Aldwych a snatch squad of police ran into the centre of the march, grabbed several of the many black-clad protesters, and dragged them across to the side of the road. Many around them, including me, were roughly pushed aside and I received a painful kick in my leg from one officer.

The crowd were angered and gathered around the police for some time but were persuaded by stewards to move on. People were further angered when they heard that the group of 600 electricians had been prevented from coming to join them, and the crowd took up the chant “Free the sparks!” But most then continued along the agreed route up Fetter Lane.

Police then decided to try and stop the march in what I commented “seemed like an act of complete folly“. Slowly the marchers pushed the police back from the confines of the street to the open area of Holborn Circus. Here “proceedings reached a state of comic chaos, with senior officers shouting orders to small strings of police to stop the protesters; while they were grappling with the few within reach the rest of us simply walked through the huge gaps between these lines.” Holborn Circus was really a circus.

A large group of students then ran past the police horses on Holborn Viaduct where they had withdrawn from Holborn Circus after several riders had lost control of their horses and I ran with them. Police managed to stop the rest of the marchers on Holborn Viaduct and after a short wait people decided to continue along the agreed route to Morgate without them.

I went on to talk with the people at Occupy Finsbury Circus who were worried by the huge police presence and felt they might be evicted. I thought it unlikely as with 5000 student marchers around it would be likely to spark a riot. I left and walked across the City where major roads were still closed to traffic and remained so for some hours. Later I watched videos showing students being kettled at Moorgate and individuals being attacked by snatch squads of plain clothes police who had posed as protesters after I had left.

More at Students March Against Cuts & Fees.

End Killing In Palestine & Doctors Protest – 2015

Tuesday, October 17th, 2023

End killing in Palestine & Doctors Protest: Eight years aso on Saturday 17th October 2015 protesters came to the street close to the Israeli Embassy to call for peace in Palestine and an end to Israeli repression. Later I photographed Junior Doctors protesting against changes to their contracts being imposed by the government.

End the killing in Palestine – Israeli Embassy

End killing in Palestine & Doctors Protest

A large crowd were squashed into a protest pen set up by police on the far side of High Street Kensington opposite the private road where Israel has its embassy. Many had Palestinian flags and wore the Palestinian keffiyeh headscarf, and they included many Palestinians.

End killing in Palestine & Doctors Protest

There had been a number of events over the previous month, in particular over what appeared to be a change to the de facto arrangements since 1967 for access by Palestinians to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem and an apparent end to the ban on Jewish religious ceremonies there, as well as growing frustration over the continuing suppression of human rights and the failure of any peace talks.

End Killing In Palestine & Doctors Protest - 2015

Tension was increased by a number of uncoordinated stabbings in what has been called the ‘Jerusalem intifada’, carried out by lone Palestinians against Israeli police, military personnel and civilians. This unrest lasted well into 2016.

End Killing In Palestine & Doctors Protest - 2015

In response Israeli forces killed over 200 Palestinians, many of whom were allegedly carrying out attacks on Israelis. But human rights organisations and Palestinian leaders say that many of these were unlawful ‘extrajudicial’ killings, with some of these being killed posing no threat.

Many of those who spoke at the protest – and many are listed and shown on My London Diary – complained about the one-sided coverage of the events in the UK media, particularly the BBC, saying that while the killing of Israelis makes the BBC news headlines, the deaths of Palestinians at the hand of Israeli security forces, illegal settlers and other Jewish extremists is seldom mentioned, although some BBC correspondents make a point of doing so despite the corporate pressure to downplay them.

More at End the killing in Palestine.

Junior Doctors protest to save the NHS – Waterloo Place & Whitehall

Junior Doctors and their supporters including many consultants and other medical staff gathered for a rally in Waterloo Place before marching down Whitehall to a rally in Parliament Square.

They were protesting against new contracts which Health Minister Jeremy Hunt was imposing on them. These will mean more working unsocial hours at standard rates and remove the safeguards that prevent hospitals from more serious overwork. They also penalised those who volunteer for charities, have families or carry out research.

Many doctors see the new contracts as a part of the increasing attempts to privatise the NHS for the profits of private medical firms, which many Tory MPs have interests in. Overwhelmingly doctors who work in the NHS want to see it kept as a service dedicated to the public good rather than working for private profit.

Hunt says the changes are essential to make the NHS a 24 hour 7 day service, but it is already that, and there were many placards naming doctors who would have come to the protest but could not do so as they were at work.

Some of the placards against NHS privatisation for the march were designed by Street graffiti artist Stik who is standing under two of them in this picture. The marchers crowded into Parliament Square but there was not enough room for them all at the rally.

More at Junior Doctors protest to save the NHS

Arctic 30, Gurkhas, Zombies & John Lewis

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2022

Another busy day for me in London on Saturday 2nd November 2013, though I spent quite a lot of it in a pub with zombies who were putting on a rather late Halloween appearance. But there were more serious things as well.

Free Kieron & Arctic 30 – Russian Embassy, Notting Hill. Sat 2 Nov 2013

Family, friends & supporters of freelance videojournalist Kieron Bryan, one of the 30 arrested on Greenpeace’s Arctic Sunrise, held a silent vigil at the Russian Embassy, delivering a petition signed by over 1000 journalists calling for his release.

There was intense media interest in the event, with several TV crews, radio journalists and photographers, perhaps because the imprisonment of a journalist is a threat to all journalists around the world. Unusually the Russian embassy had agreed to meet Kieron’s brother and take the petition, and although no photography is permitted in the private street in which it (and the Israeli embassy) are situated I was able to photograph him standing in the gate to the street holding it.

The Arctic 30 had sailed to the Russian Arctic on the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise in September 2013 to protest peacefully against Gazpromā€™s plans to start oil production in the Arctic. The ship was seized and they were kept in custody for two months before being released on bail in November – after the Netherlands had filed a case at the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea which led to an order for the crew and Dutch-registered vessel to be released while the case was being considered. Although Russia ignored this ruling they did release the journalists, activists and crew, and six months later, the ship. Probably protests such as this helped to persuade them to do so.

The Dutch government filed complaints at the European Court against the unlawful detention of the Dutch-registered ship and the protesters also took a case claiming that hey had been detained unlawfully and their right to freedom of expression had been breached.

Free Kieron & Arctic 30

Gurkha Veterans Hunger Strike for Justice – Downing St, Sat 2 Nov 2013

Gurkha wives and widows support the campaign for justice

Although high-profile earlier campaigns supported by Joanna Lumley and others in the broadcast media have led to increased support for former Gurkha soldiers, elderly Gurkha veterans did not benefit from these and most live here in extreme poverty.

After submitting their petition to Prime Minister David Cameron and the Nepalese Prime Minister in April and getting no satisfactory result and they had “with a heavy heart” begun a series of hunger strikes. These had begun in late October with a “13 days relay hunger strike in the name of the 13 Ghurka VCs” which was in progress when I took these pictures, demanding equal pensions, compensation, a preserved pension for those made redundant, the right of settlement in the UK for their adult children and free medical treatment in Nepal.

Five days later some began a hunger strike until death, and after two weeks the government offered talks and this was halted.

Gurkha Veterans Hunger Strike

LoNdOn ZoMbIE WaLk VII – Soho, Sat 2 Nov 2013

I met with around a hundred zombies in Waxy O’Connor’s pub on Rupert St, where they were drinking for a couple of hours occasionally emerging into the dim daylight of Wardour St for a fag break.

Around 4pm as dusk was falling the multitude of undead staggered up the stairs to begin their crawl around Londinium in search of brains and booze. I left them to it.

Among those on Gerrard Street were a group of Zombie Police whose warrant cards carried the message ‘A pint of Cider and Black Please’.

Announced as the seventh consecutive year for this event, it followed on from some earlier ‘Crawls of the Dead’ which began in 2004.

Inside the pub the lighting was low and I needed to use flash. While the Nikon flash gun I was using in the hot-shoe of my camera is generally a great performer I had some problems. While it is OK with the camera in landscape mode, turning the setup through 90 degrees for portrait format images isn’t really very successful. And I also found myself unable to use the usually magical i-TTL mode, not because of some zombie spells, but as later searches through the fat manual at home revealed it is incompatible with the camera mode I had set for the dark interior. I think the camera and flash manual have a total of well over 500 pages – these things are just too complicated for mortals.


City Link & Cleaners at John Lewis – Oxford St, Sat 2 Nov 2013

As the final zombies staggered out of the pub to crawl Soho I rushed away to Oxford Street where cleaners were holding a protest outside the flagship John Lewis Store, and were today joined by City Link workers who deliver goods for the company.

City Link was sold off earlier in the year to Jon Moulton’s private equity group ‘Better Capital’ and face pay cuts, enforced overtime, loss of bonus scheme and other changes. They were protesting with John Lewis’s cleaners who are fighting to get a living wage and better working conditions. Unlike other staff in the store who are directly employed by the company as ‘partners’ and share in the profits through a bonus scheme, cleaners are outsourced to a cleaning company and paid less than a pittance, with unsocial hours and poor conditions of service. John Lewis management wash their hands and say it it nothing to do with them.

City Link & Cleaners at John Lewis