Posts Tagged ‘shame’

UVW at Wood St – 29 June 2016

Tuesday, June 29th, 2021

The strike and protests organised by the United Voices of the World union against anti-union cleaning contractor Thames Cleaning who employed the cleaners at the 100 Wood St offices in the City of London, managed by CBRE and mainly let to Schroders and J P Morgan is a good example of one of the things the current Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill is aiming to prevent.

The UVW use loud rallies and protests outside workplaces (and sometimes in their foyers) to shame employers who are exploiting low paid workers, many migrants, into talking to the union. These workers, often employed by small and intensely anti-union companies, are often on minimum legal rates of pay, well below the London Living Wage and usually on the statutory minimum (and minimal) conditions of service – and sometimes even have problems getting these.

Outsourcing of low paid work such as cleaning is widespread, and contractors get the contracts by cutting costs – such as wages and conditions of service – and also by using bullying management to over-work their employees. Often too they cut costs by ignoring safety issues and failing to supply protective clothing and other essential safety material.

The UVW strike at Wood St was the longest industrial dispute in the history of the City of London, and it continued after Thames Cleaning had agreed to pay the London Living Wage for some days until they also agreed to re-instate the two workers who had been sacked. These pictures come from a rally on day 22 of the 58 day strike.

The strike was only successful because of the continuing pressure provided by loud protests such as this one, which made the companies working in the offices very aware of what was happening and made them and the building owners put pressure on the contracting company to meet the union and agree to their demands. Protests such as these, by the UVW and other grass-roots unions including CAIWU, the IWGB and a few branches of major unions have been successful in getting many of London’s lowest paid workers a living wage.

The PCSC bill, if it becomes law, will make these activities illegal. Already under existing laws, the company was able to take legal action to try and get an injunction to stop the strike. Although this failed it did get strict conditions put on the UVW’s actions at Wood St, and landed the union with crippling legal costs. Fortunately many supporters came forward with donations.

I came to take pictures on a number of occasions during the strike, which you can find on My London Diary. These pictures are all from Day 22: UVW Wood St Strike continues.

Facebook Shame

Thursday, August 22nd, 2019

I’ve written recently about Facebook’s censorship of posts and many of my friends who are on Facebook (and more who I don’t know but are ‘Facebook Friends’) seem regularly to disappear for a few days or even permanently having been banned from FB. (Though most of those who have been permanently removed seem to reappear in a few days under a slightly different name.

Often their ‘offences’ seem to have been trivial or non-existent, sometimes just sharing a link to an article in the mainstream press seems to be enough to generate a ban. At times FB’s arbiters seem excessively prudish, objecting to the kind of language that is commonplace in many groups in our society, or in their obsessive fear of women’s nipples.

FB’s censorship reached a shameful new low a few months ago, when they blocked people recording ‘Likes‘ on the site of Access Ability who have a Facebook help line to empower people with disabilities. When this was queried on a phone call, the site was told the action had been taken by FB because “some people find it disturbing to see pictures of disabled people“.

Together with a colleague I went to photograph a protest by disabled friends from DPAC (Disabled People Against Cuts) outside Facebook’s London HQ against this discriminatory treatment by Facebook of disability-related pages, and you can see my pictures of their protest. During the protest they played a recording of the phone call which the above quote came from, and there were other similarly disturbing statements.

But what you can’t see pictures of is a meeting which I think took place between the protesters and a manager from Facebook about the ban. FB were clearly so ashamed about their behaviour that they were unwilling for this to be recorded. Their security manager came out and told DPAC that a manager would only come out and talk with them if the meeting was not photographed, videoed or recorded in any way.

My colleague had already left, deciding he had enough pictures of the protest for his newspaper which had asked him to cover it. I decided not to¬†prejudice the outcome of the event for the protesters¬†and felt that reporting the prohibition was a more powerful admission of FB’s guilty shame than any photographs of the meeting could be and left.

More pictures at Disabled protest against Facebook

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.

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