Posts Tagged ‘Security Guards’

Sick Pay, Holidays And Pensions – End Outsourcing

Tuesday, June 28th, 2022

Sick Pay, Holidays And Pensions – End Outsourcing – Nine years ago on Friday 28th June 2013 I photographed a protest by low-paid workers at the University of London who with their supporters ran into the Senate House and protested noisily inside the building for sick pay, holidays and pensions for all workers at the University.


I’ve spent some time over the past few days thinking about strikes and industrial actions, partly because of the rail strikes. My local station is one of the few that still has a train service, but out of solidarity with the workers I won’t be using it on strike days, and on the days in between it is still likely to be unreliable.

The campaigners met up at SOAS before the protest

Of course I support the strikers, many of them low paid workers and all of whom have seen the value of their wages cut over the last few years. And these have been years when for all the problems that politicians and media state many of the wealthy have got considerably wealthier – and some made huge fortunes over Brexit and profited greatly (and not always legally) over Covid. We are living in an increasingly unfair society, and with a government which despite claims about levelling up is doing its damnedest to make the rich richer while making the poor poorer.

After marching quietly past university buildings they dashed towards Senate House

The government and train operating companies make much of the need to modernise the railways and I can only agree with them. We desperately need to get back to a sensible structure for running railways, to reverse the breakup of the system into small pieces, each with its highly paid management, caused by the doctrinaire privatisation of the 1990s. And yes, there are other changes which could greatly improve the system, but what the companies mean by modernisation is largely slashing the additional rates for overtime, weekend and night work. It’s ‘we’ll give you more pay if we can cut your wages at the same time’.

and were all inside the building before security noticed

June 28th is said to be the date on which new restrictions on the right to protest pushed through parliament in the last session come into effect. I think the protest by the IWGB on behalf of low paid workers employed by contract companies at London University on Friday 28th January 2013 would clearly have been illegal in several ways had this law been in place then. And it would be precisely those aspects that made this and most other protests over low pay effective that could have resulted in arrests.

They swarmed up the stairs towards the Vice-Chancellor’s office

I don’t know how (or even if) the police will enforce the new laws. Although I think they will have little appetite to do so, there will be considerably political pressure on them. And while the large unions will worry about the huge impact legal measures would have on their funds and largely play safe, perhaps the small grass-roots unions who have been so much more effective for low paid workers will feel they have less to lose.

They held a noisy protest outside the Vice-Chancellor’s office

Back in 2013, the low paid workers who keep London University running were taking part in a ‘Summer of Action’, supported by the grass roots IWGB union (Independent Workers of Great Britain) and the students of the ULU (University of London Union.)

making sure he and his staff could hear why they were protesting


Many of the the cleaners, security guards and catering staff who work in the same buildings as other service staff employed by the university have brutally inferior conditions of service as they employed on behalf of the university by contracting companies who give them none of the kind or working conditions that any considerate employer would provide.

They then returned to the large lobby below to tell those attending conferences why workers were protesting.

Often they are not provided with proper safety equipment and expected to work in unsafe ways to get the job done, and may have to put up with harsh and unreasonable demands over workload, derogatory treatment and even racism from the managers employed by contract companies.

But this ‘3 Cosas’ protest was largely about three things, sick pay, holidays and pensions, on which these outsourced staff often have to fight even to get the rock-bottom statutory minimum provisions. Statutory sick pay is so low that few workers can afford to take time off when they are sick. Even at the height of Covid, many who were unwell had to drag themselves into work, putting their own health and that of others at risk to pay their rent and feed their families.

They continued a noisy protest in the lobby and its balconies for a few minutes

It took many protests such as this to persuade the University and other bodies to end the unfair outsourcing – even when studies showed there were considerable advantages in having a properly employed workforce and little if any financial loss. At SOAS, where the protesters met before the protest the Justice for Workers Campaign led by SOAS Unison branch began in 2006 and was only finally successful in 2018.

and then decided it was time to leave, pleased that the protest had gone so well.

The IWGB is still campaigning against outsourcing at University College London (UCL) and London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) as well as other campaigns. A few days ago I photographed them outside the London offices of the world’s largest healthcare multinational Health Corporation of America (HCA) Healthcare, who run the private London Bridge Hospital, and they also support other groups of low-paid workers, including foster carers, delivery drivers, minicab drivers and cycling instructors.

More about the 3 Cosas protest at Cleaners Surprise Senate House Invasion.


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Gitmo, London Uni, Ethiopia, Israel & Ukraine Miners

Monday, May 23rd, 2022

Gitmo, London Uni, Ethiopia, Israel & Ukraine Miners – Protests in London on Friday 23rd May 2014 included those against the continuing illegal detentions in Guantánamo, redundancies for support workers at London University, killing and human rights abuses in Ethiopia and those supporting hunger strikes in Israeli jails and strikes by miners in Ukraine.


Obama keep your promises – Trafalgar Square

A year after President Obama again pledged to close Guantánamo, activists in black hoods and orange jumpsuits in London and 40 other cities reminded him of yet another broken promise and called for the urgent release of Londoner Shaker Aamer – prisoner 239. The protest in London was part of an international day of action coordinated by the US organisation Witness Against Torture.

In the year since Obama made the promise only 12 prisoners have been released and 154 remain, subjected to appalling conditions, beatings and daily abuse of their human rights. Former London resident Shaker Aamer’s family in Battersea include a son born a few months after his capture by bandits in Afghanistan. He was one of the first transferred to Guantanamo and has been there over 12 years, despite having been cleared more than once for release.

More at Obama keep your promises.


Defend UoL Garden Halls workers – Senate House, University of London

The IWGB trade union protested at Senate House, the headquarters building of the University of London demanding proper consultation and negotiation over the redundancies of 80 workers at the University of London’s Garden Halls in Bloomsbury.

Those under threat of losing their jobs include porters, cleaners and security guards and include many of those who are active in the continuing struggle for proper sick pay, holidays and pensions in the ‘3 Cosas’ campaign at London University.

Although most of the workers are members of the independent union, the Independent Workers of Great Britain, both the University and its contracted employer Cofely refuse to talk with the IWGB and recognise instead more compliant traditional unions with few if any members among the workers. The IWGB states “many of these workers have been at the University of London for decades” and “the University bears responsibility for the treatment of these workers, regardless of the fact that their roles are contracted to private companies.”

The lunchtime protest was a noisy one with with workers using a megaphone, drums, whistles and shouting to make their demands heard. They intend to come back every Friday until the end of term or until management engages in meaningful talks over the issues.

More at Defend UoL Garden Halls workers.


Oromo and Ogaden against Ethiopian killings – Old Palace Yard, Westminster

Oromo and Ogaden National Liberation Front supporters had come to protest opposite Parliament over the Ethiopian government’s killing of Oromo university students peacefully protesting the grabbing of Oromo land and calling for the release of political prisoners.

There are around 30 million Oromo living in Ethopia and adjoining areas of Somalia and they are the Largest ethnic group in the country; their language is Africa’s third most widely spoken. There were a number of democratic kingdoms in the area before they were conquered in the late nineteenth century by Abyssinian emperor Menlik II, aided by the European colonial powers and their modern weapons. Around half the Oromo are said to have been killed in these wars and since then successive regimes have made determined attempts to destroy Oromo identity – its language, culture, customs and traditions.

This oppression continues, now with the help of the US government who since 9/ll have worked with the Ethopian government as part of their worlwide fight against “terrorism”, according tto BBC Newsnight and and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism “using billions of dollars of development aid as a tool for political oppression” with programmes of deliberate starvation of communities, and “of mass detentions, (and) the widespread use of torture and extra-judicial killings.

More at Oromo and Ogaden against Ethiopian killings.


Support Hunger Strike in Israeli Jails – G4S HQ, Victoria St

Protesters outside the London HQ of security firm G4S supported the mass hunger strike by Palestinians demanding an end to Israels’s illegal policy of rolling Administrative Detention which can jail them for years without charge or trial in prisons which G4S secures.

The hunger strike by Palestinian prisoners had begun a month earlier with 134 detainees taking part. Israel uses administrative detention to imprison Palestinians indefinitely without charge or trial, using rolling detention orders of 1-6 months which are renewable indefinitely in defiance of international law.

The detention orders are based on “secret evidence” which neither those detained or their lawyers have any right to see, and in the years up to 2014 there had been around 2000 made each year. Those given them include 9 Palestinian MPs. Often when released from one order detainees are immediately re-arrested on another.

Those taking part in hunger strikes included 34 years old Ayman Al-Tabeesh who has spent over 10 years in Israeli prisons. He began his second hunger strike in February 2014 and 70 days later had lost over 25kg; at the time of this protest he had been advised after 85 days that he was at grave risk of a heart attack. His brother had sent a message of support to the protesters for their earlier protest in support of the hunger strikers stating “We need you to tell the international community of Israel’s criminal brutality against our prisoners, the violation of their rights. The occupations illegal never ending administrative detention orders is nothing less than a slow death for Palestinian prisoners.”

More at Support Hunger Strike in Israeli Jails.


Solidarity with Ukrainian Miners – Holborn

A protest outside the registered offices of London mining company Evraz, owned by Russian Oligarchs Roman Abramovich and Alexander Abramov, supported miners in the Independent Union of Miners of Ukraine who had ensured peace and unity at Kryviy Rih and were striking to maintain real wages.

Kryviy Rih is a city in south-east Ukraine, at the centre of the largest steel industry in Eastern Europe with a population of around three-quarters of a million people. Protests there in 2014 demanded “Putin, Get Out!” and supported the Ukrainian government against the Russian separatists in Ukraine, with the Independent Union of Miners of Ukraine organising to defend the protests there.

The miners were striking for a doubling of wages to meet the rapid rise in the cost of living which has meant a 30-505 drop in real wages. They were angered after a 20% increase promised the previous month was not paid. The Miner’s union state “We are deeply convinced that the main cause of the destabilised situation in the country is the greed of Ukrainian and Russian oligarchs, who pay a beggar’s wage to workers, send all their profits off-shore and don’t pay taxes in Ukraine. In fact the oligarchs are almost completely exempt from taxes on their profits.”

On 11th May 2014 the miners had marched through the streets of Kryvyy Rih to protest at the offices of the mining company EVRAZ and had called for support in London where the company, owned by Russian Oligarch Roman Abramovich, along with his business partner Alexander Abramov, is based. The protest in Holborn was one of a number including at the registered office of the company in the City of London, at Chelsea Football Ground and elsewhere. This year, after the Russian invasion of Ukraine the British government accused the company of “providing financial services or making available funds, economic resources, goods or technology that could contribute to destabilising Ukraine” and after sanctions were applied to Abramovich the trading of Evraz shares on the London Stock Exchange was suspended.

In April 2022, Russian forces were around 60km from the city, but the ArcelorMittal Kryvyi Rih steel plant which had closed down all of its four blast furnaces at the start of the Russian invasion restarted production with one furnace in early April, though hampered by the loss of around 94% of their staff to military duties or by evacuation.

More at Solidarity with Ukrainian Miners.


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


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.


A Bad Day Out

Saturday, February 20th, 2021

I didn’t much enjoy Thursday 20th Feb 2020, though I was pleased to be able to cover a protest by UVW Security guards working at St George’s University Hospital in Tooting. They had been on strike for 3 weeks demanding to be directly employed rather than outsourced to a private contractor and working under the minimum legal terms and conditions of service.

Although they belong to the United Voices of the World union, the university had refused recognise or talk with their union, and has called on the police to intimidate the workers and try to break their strike – and police even carried out an unlawful arrest of a UVW staff member and barrister. I’d arrived too late on that occasion to photograph the picket, when everyone had left the area.

On 20th Feb I arrived too early. Although when I had first been sent details of the protest planned to take place on an Open Day for postgraduate students they were planning to start at 4pm, the time had later been changed to 6pm and I’d not checked before setting out. So I arrived two hours early and was surprised to find that I was the only one there.

After a little checking on my phone I found out what was happening, and decided that rather than missing the event I’d go for a walk around the area. It wasn’t a bad day for February, and I enjoyed the walk by the Rover Wandle, but by the time the sun had gone down it did start to get rather cold.

There was still no sign of the protesters, but after a phone call I met up with them close to Tooting Broadway station, where they had a large number of balloons to give the protest a party theme, and were writing slogans on them, which proved a little difficult. After some short speeches on a rather dark street corner they marched down to the hospital. It was hard to take photographs as they marched as the street lighting was poor and they were moving at a fast walking pace.

At the hospital they walked in though the main doors to a corridor area; there were very few security staff on duty, perhaps because most were on strike. I think perhaps the change of time for the protest had misled the hospital management as well as me, as there were no police present, though I had seen some when I arrived around 4pm.

Once inside there were more speeches with the union making their demands for the security guards to be made direct employees of St George’s University London and for them to receive pay and T&Cs of employment in line with SGUL standards. Among those to speak in support was drill music star Drillmaster who is standing for London Mayor.


It was a noisy protest, with music and dancing as well as speeches. Police arrived and after some fairly terse discussion came to an agreement with the protesters that they would leave in a few minutes time.

My day was not over, though I was already a couple of hours later than expected. I ran across Clapham Junction to jump on a train for home just as it was leaving, only for it to make an unscheduled stop at the next station, Wandsworth Town. After around 15 minutes we were all told to get off as the train would be going no further as the line was closed at Barnes where someone had committed suicide by throwing themselves under a train. Despite this being an unfortunately common happening at Barnes, South West Trains appeared to have absolutely no contingency plans. Eventually I got a bus back to Clapham Junction, a well-staffed station but where nobody seemed to know what was happening, and joined hundreds of passengers going from platform to platform in search of a train that would take one of the two alternative routes that avoid the accident location.

I took a chance and jumped on a Kingston train. No one on the platform or on the train knew how far it was going, but I knew that if necessary I could catch a bus home from Kingston. At Kingston the guard thought they might get to Twickenham – where again I might get a bus. Eventually it reached Twickenham, where everyone was told to leave the train. Fortunately by that time – two hours after the incident – someone had the sense to
set up a shuttle service for stations further west, and eventually I arrived home, around five hours later than I had expected when I set out and fuming at the incompetence of South West Trains.

More at:
St Georges’s Hospital Security Guards
Wandle Wander


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.


Show Workers Some Love

Sunday, February 14th, 2021

On St Valentine’s Day, Feb 14 2019, the Security and Receptionists Branch of the IWGB union and students launched their campaign for Goldsmiths University of London to directly employ its security officers, with a protest outside and inside the university buildings. The protest, on St Valentines Day, called on the university to show its workers some love.

I was pleased to be invited to go to photograph the event, and thankful that unlike many union pickets it was to take place at lunchtime rather than at the kind of ungodly hour of the morning that many of our worst paid have to clock in. I’m afraid I decline all requests that would involve me getting out of bed well before dawn and leave those to younger photographers who live closer, in part because travel until after the morning peak into London costs more than any likely return from reproduction fees.

Goldsmiths is in New Cross, a rather run-down area of South London that I’ve known for years and is rapidly sprawling over the whole area. Long ago, before I started taking photographs I made the pilgrimage to Chris Wellard’s Jazz & Blues Record Shop on Lewisham Way, probably the finest in the world until its closure in the mid-70s, later demolished for a new block for the college just a few yards further down the road. Goldsmiths has never quite gained the same reputation, though I have been there for the odd (sometimes very odd) meeting and event since. And more often to visit a late artist and photographer friend whose studios were just a little further on down the road at Lewisham Arthouse.

A group of students stood outside the old college building, waiting for the event to start, and eventually members of the IWGB arrived. Chris Wellard’s advertising always use to contain strict instructions to take the BR Southern trains from London Bridge rather than use the Underground (now the Overground) and perhaps they hadn’t observed these.

But things soon warmed up, and after some short speeches, including a warning from IWGB General Secretary Jason Moyer-Lee that this was a peaceful protest and we should be careful not to cause any damage a show of hands was voted to protest inside the building. We walked inside and made our way through the campus, stopping at various areas where people were eating lunch to for the union leaders to speak briefly – and to considerable applause from most – about the campaign.

The protesters then walked down to New Cross Road, where the university management no has its offices in the former Deptford Town Hall, and sat down in the busy road outside for a few minutes blocking all traffic.

Walking back into the university campus, they group briefly occupied the foyer of the Ben Pimlott Building, before walking back to the front of the main building for a final rally.

It had been a lively and highly noticeable protest, bringing the claim for security staff to be directly employed by the university with similar terms and benefits to others at Goldsmiths to the attention of a large number of students, staff and management.

Exactly a year later, on Valentines Day 2020, the IWGB Security Guards & Receptionists Branch tweeted (with a short video):

More pictures at Bring Goldsmith’s Security In-House.


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.