Posts Tagged ‘trade unionists’

More From May Days: 2017

Wednesday, May 13th, 2020

Class War put in a strong presence at Clerkenwell Green both with banners and with a newspaper, rather more interesting than many left-wing publications. Numbers of marchers were down after the previous year’s Corbyn-inspired peak, with the usual representation of communist groups from London’s immigrant communities, various left groups and trade unionists with banners. There were perhaps rather more from the trade unions and left as this march was also celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Russian revolution.

As usual when the march began I tried to photograph as many of the banners as I could as they came down the road, and there is a large selection of them on My London Diary. Although there were a few anarchist groups on the march I wasn’t surprised that Class War, always dismissive of A to B marches, had stayed behind and were now in the pub, where I joined them.

The plan had been for them to make their way by tube to Trafalgar Square, but it’s always difficult to leave a good pub, and by the time a small group had dragged themselves out carrying a rolled up banner they were running rather late. The journey took rather longer than I expected, as having been in the pub they decided on a route via Baker St, one of the few Underground stations with a public toilet, and by the time we arrived in Trafalgar Square the rally was rather past its peak, though I was pleased to be able to photograph Mark Serwotka speaking.

People were meeting in the Leake Street graffiti tunnel under Waterloo Station for the May Day F**k Parade, and I was pleased to find some familiar faces among the crowd. There isn’t a huge amount of light in the tunnel, and I was mainly working at shutter speeds of around 1/25s or a little faster, and quite a few pictures were blurred by people moving. I took a few using flash, but couldn’t really get what I wanted with it.

I was pleased when the parade moved off and there was more light. People were celebrating and there was a good atmosphere, at least until it got to Waterloo Bridge. Here’s my description from My London Diary for what happened there:

“On the bridge a black-clad protester set off another flare, and I heard a police officer shout ‘Let’s go and get him’ or something similar. I was pushed to one side as police rushed past me and a crowd of them surrounded a protester and grabbed him, throwing him to the ground.

The mood of the crowd changed instantly and some tried to grab their friend back, but police piled into them, some clearly enjoying the opportunity of a little rough handling of the public. Fortunately no one seemed badly injured.

As usual police tried to hide what they were doing to the man on the floor, standing around him to try to stop people seeing and photographing. There did seem to be some excessive use of force and the usual unnecessary painful forcing of his arms up behind his back as he was led away.

I was surprised by this sudden use of force against people who had really been causing no harm. There seemed to be no good reason for it, and it rather seemed as if the police simply wanted a bit of action and perhaps to intimidate the protesters who included a number of young children. And perhaps the fact that there were few if any other people on the bridge meant they felt they could get tough with the parade.

May Day F**k Parade

There had been a number of flares set off earlier – and more later in the event – which police seemed to ignore, so it was hard to see why they decided to act on this occasion.

Eventually the parade moved on across the bridge and then up through Covent Garden Market (with more flares) and then on to Leicester Square. By now the light was fading and so were my legs, and I left for home.

May Day F**k Parade
May Day F**k Parade Meets
May Day Rally
May Day March
May Day March Gathers


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

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.


More from May Days: 2010

Tuesday, May 5th, 2020

Perhaps because in 2010 May Day was a Saturday and an election was coming up in five days time there were more things than usual happening as well as the usual Trade Union & Socialist May Day March from Clerkenwell Green. This had its usual mix of communist and socialist groups from London’s various communities along with trade unions, campaign groups and others but with a strong anarchist bloc, including the Black Horse of Anarchy and an executioner.

Among the trade union groups were the National Union of Sex Workers.

While the official TUC rally took place in Trafalgar Square I joined the May Day ElectionCarnival in Parliament Square. There the Black Horse of Anarchy which had marched from Clerkenwell with an effigy of Nick Griffin was joined by the three other Horses of the Apocalypse which had made shorter journeys from the Westminster campaign headquarters of the three political parties, bringing with them effigies of Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg.

There was an extremely crowded and rather confused series of executions with plenty of gore, not easy to photograph, though I took rather a lot of pictures.

The sky turned black but the storm held off for the heads of class traitors to be exhibited on poles

and the Space Hijackers to finally arrive with their ‘Spoil Your Vote Campaign Bus‘, which had been touring London. Their message was clear:

“If voting actually changed anything they would ban it. Did you get to vote on the Iraq war? Did you get to vote about regulations on banking? Did you get to vote on MP’s expenses? Is this a democracy or a bad joke?

Why play by the rules in this farce of an election?

Every spoilt ballot gets counted and shown to the candidates in that constituency, so why not reject the lot of them and tell them what you think with your ballot paper?”

Rhythms of Resistance had made their way from Parliament Square to the Leake Street graffiti tunnel, where the Rave Against The Machine continued in the dry as the storm broke overhead.

Rave Against The Machine
Spoil Your Vote Campaign Bus
May Day Election Carnival
Trade Union & Socialist May Day March


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

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.


More from May Days: 2007

Saturday, May 2nd, 2020

A fairly random selection of pictures I like from my coverage of May Day events in London in 2007.

Unusually my photographic day began in Whitehall where a small group of what I described as “the more eccentric elements of middle england” had gathered with a horse-drawn hearse and a dragon to take a coffin draped in a St George’s flag to Downing St, celebrating 300 years of union with Scotland by asking for English devolution. On My London Diary I wrote (and all in lower case):

i never did find out what the barnett formula they were against was, but i’m sure that these were people in favour of warm beer, cricket and morris dancing as well as good manners. st george didn’t look like the type to scare dragons (and the dragon wasn’t either scary or easy to photograph.)

but i’ve never really thought of myself as being very english. like most of the english, most of my family came from somewhere else at some time or other. i only knew one of my four grandparents and i’m not convinced she spoke english, but then she didn’t say much either.

apart from my lack of sporting skills i could have qualified for at least two of our national sides (so perhaps after all i could have played cricket for wales.) if i ever think of myself know as having any kind of cultural identity now (and it’s a very un-english thought) it would be as a londoner. maybe

http://mylondondiary.co.uk/2007/05/may.htm

From there I made my way to Clerkenwell for the annual London May Day march, dominated as usual by large groups from London’s ethnic communities.

Also on the march were trade unionists with their banners and campaigning groups such as ‘Stop The War’. Among other groups you can see in my pictures are Chagos Islanders and Gate Gourmet strikers who were protesting at being betrayed by their union, the T&G W U.

The marchers went on as usual to Trafalgar Square where a man stood with a whistle and a sign to welcome them.

I went on to Canary Wharf, where the Space Hijackers, outnumbered around ten to one by police, were holding their ‘Booted and Suited’ party in Reuters Square

And the day ended with a little police sadism:

A police officer applies a dangerous ‘pain compliance’ hold cutting blood supply to the brain of a man who wasn’t resisting arrest, while another officer forces his hand up behind his back. The man was then put in a police van and driven away. He had apparently ignored a police order to move on.

The whole of the Canary Wharf area is one of those increasing parts of the city which are private fiefdoms, with the public only allowed access to serve the needs of capital as workers or consumers. It has its own security service, but on this occasion only their boss, wearing a suit, was in evidence, coming to talk with protesters and police. It dresses its security officers in uniforms which closely resemble those of police officers, in a way that seems to be an offence under the Police Act 1996. Having invited several hundred police officers to the event I imagine they had decided having the security officers there would be too confusing.


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

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.


May Day

Friday, May 1st, 2020

Today’s May Day will be very different, with no march in London, no meeting in Trafalgar Square and none of the other activities we have seen in recent years. There will be online events, but it really isn’t the same. And I think I will take few if any pictures.

Until 2000, I was working on May Day most years and missed the May Day celebrations, except, when as in 1999 they fell on a weekend. In 2000 things were a little different, and while doubtless the usual trade union celebrations went on, rather more of us gathered in Parliament Square on May Day, a Monday, for an anti-capitalist protest, indulging in a little guerilla gardening. It wasn’t as the BBC and newspapers recorded a riot, but a good-natured protest with people having fun and a little minor law-breaking and only became nasty when the police charged in after windows were broken at a McDonald’s. I went home as I didn’t want to be kettled.

It was 2003 before I returned to photograph May Day events, and I wrote:

may day has perhaps settled into a rather predictable event now. the socialist left – and what is left seems to be a few unions and a number of ethnic communist party groups – march from clerkenwell to trafalgar square, while anti-capitalist protestors do not a lot around town.

My London Diary

and the few images I put on line reflect this. My coverage the following year, 2004, was a little more upbeat, perhaps because I met up again with the Bristol Radical Cheerleaders who certainly livened things up, but also because I was getting better at using a digital camera. But most of my coverage then was still in black and white and I still haven’t added the pictures I said would follow.

I photographed May Day and the march again in 2005, but the highlight of the day was provided by the Space Hijackers who had challenged our 600 odd MPs to an Anarchist Cricket match to be held in Parliament Square.

I wasn’t surprised when no members of the opposing team actually turned up, but their absence didn’t detract from the event.

2006 was perhaps my busiest May Day ever, beginning with the launch of the London Citizens Workers’ Association at Westminster Cathedral, then photographing the London May Day March, which included a strong autonomous anti-capitalist bloc.

Among the speakers at Trafalgar Square, though not on the main platform was Ian Bone of Class War, once labelled the most dangerous man in England, and even at this event attracting considerable police attention.

I went on from Trafalgar Square to the Bank of England where the Space Hijackers were holding their Police Victory Party. Unlike at their cricket match there was a large attendance by the opposition, though they didn’t really join in the party organised for them.

Long Live May Day!


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

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.


Trafalgar Square protests

Saturday, April 4th, 2020
Ian Hodson, BFAWU President

Back on Saturday 12th October there were two protests taking place in Trafalgar Square and it was raining. One was by trade unionists supporting Extinction Rebellion and the school climate strikers, and there was a powerful speech from Ian Hodson, National President of the Baker’s Union BFAWU.  His union is one of the older and smaller unions in the TUC, founded in 1847 in Manchester though it has changed its name a couple of times.

The BFAWU is a union that still fights actively for its members and isn’t afraid to take on large organisations, including McDonald’s, Burger King, and KFC in its campaign to unionise and improve pay and conditions for fast food workers.

The rain came on rather more heavily, and I kept my cameras in my camera bag or under my coat, and took rather fewer pictures than I would otherwise. Working in wet conditions is still rather a pain, even though some cameras and some lenses are ‘weatherproof’ this doesn’t really keep them going in the rain.

The 3million organisation representing the three million EU citizens who were living in the UK had come prepared, wearing blue and yellow plastic rain capes with a sticker on them also in the colours of the EU flag and the message ‘I am not a bargaining chip’.

They had come to protest at the broken promise made by the Vote Leave campaign, which had clearly stated that EU Citizens currently living in the UK would “automatically be granted indefinite leave to remain in the UK” in the event of Brexit. Instead we have a complex scheme of applications, with many who have applied for leave to remain having their applications rejected. Some who have lived here for over 50 years, and have children who are UK citizens may face deportation.

Together they tore up copies of the promise, though the light had dropped and the pictures I took on a longer lens were rather blurred by their motion – I hadn’t got my camera set to a high enough ISO.

I still can’t decide which is the best way to work with my digital cameras when lighting conditions are likely to change. The different cameras I use – and on this occasion it was an Olympus OMD M5 II and a Fuji XT-1 – have slightly differing implementation of auto-ISO, which would seem to be a good answer, but in practice can mean that you are too often working at full aperture.

Probably the answer is to work in manual mode, setting both aperture and shutter speed when using auto-ISO, but it is then very easy to find that either you have reached your maximum ISO set and the camera then underexposes everything, or, even worse, you are at the minimum ISO in your range and all your images are overexposed with burnt out highlights.

More on both protests:

Brexit unfair for EU citizens
Trade Unionists join the Rebellion


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

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.


3 Years of BEIS poverty pay

Saturday, December 7th, 2019

The PCS has many low-paid members working in government departments, including the BEIS, or to give it the full and perhaps deliberately unwieldy name, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. It was created by Theresa May on 14 July 2016 when she amalgamated the  Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) and Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) probably in part as a way of downplaying the government response to climate change. It appears to have become something of a parking place for some of the least able of our politicians, and at the time of its third birthday the minister in charge was Greg Clark, then Member of Parliament for Tunbridge Wells, since replaced by Andrea Leadsom.

Clark’s picture appears on some of the placards and on the birthday cake which had rather more then 3 candles on it as the picture at the top of the page shows and which many of us present had a piece at the end of the protest.

This was the start of the first ever indefinite strike at a government ministry, with cleaners and catering workers coming out on strike to demand the London Living Wage and to be directly employed by the BEIS rather than outsourcing companies ISS and Aramark.

Given this it was perhaps hardly surprising that there were an unusual number of Labour party and trade union speakers at the event, with the PCS president, general secretary and national vice-president joined by the general secretaries of two other unions, a Labour MP and Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell as well as several other leading trade unionists, all of whom appear in my pictures on My London Diary.

But the stars of the show were the workers. I was standing in the right place to capture the picture with all the candles on the cake lit, but most of the press photographers were to one side, and some of them decided to get the workers to turn around towards them. Unfortunately while they moved, the wind blew out all the candles before they could be blown out. So the image apparently showing the candles being blown out is a little piece of fake news staged for the press – as my caption for it made clear, as does the absence of any smoke from the candles that had been extinguished some seconds earlier, allowing it to clear.

More at BEIS workers begin indefinite strike.


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

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.

May Day banners

Saturday, August 31st, 2019
The main banner for the march

After photographing some of the marchers as they left Clerkenwell Green I rushed ahead and photographed the whole march as it came up to Farringdon Road and continued on its way towards Trafalgar Square.

I tried hard to photograph all of the banners that were being carried, and have put most of these pictures on My London Diary. I think I missed a few, particularly where some of the large trade union banners obscured others, and there were a few pictures I rejected for technical or aesthetic reasons. But it is a measure of the rather smaller scale of this year’s march that I was able to record almost all of it in a little over 40 images.

Sri Lanka People’s Liberation Front
Turkish MLKP banner
Kashmir JK NAP UK
Day-Mer Women Organisation
English Collective of Prostitutes and Women Against Rape
Communist Party of Greece

When the end of the march had passed me, I walked down to the tube. I had decided against going to the rally in Trafalgar Square, and I suspect that as in previous years most of the marchers would quickly melt away after they had reached the destination. There would still be an audience, though not a huge one and made up more of British trade unionists and socialists than the march.

In previous years the rally has largely failed to represent the cosmopolitan nature of the march, and I had no reason to feel this year would be any different. I went to celebrate May Day with a group of friends in a pub in Wapping, intending to return in the evening for another event in central London. But our celebrations went well and somehow I missed it.

More London May Day Banners on My London Diary.


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

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.


Shrinking May Day

Friday, August 30th, 2019

There has been a march in London on May Day, May 1st, for many years now, and since I went freelance I think I’ve attended it most or all years. Before when I was working as a full-time teacher, I was usually working on the actual May Day and unable to celebrate it, though back in the 70s I would turn up to work with a sprig of Lily of the Valley in my lapel, provided by a left-wing colleague, with French connections – there they have a public holiday to celebrate La Fête du Travail which is also know as La Fête du Muguet .

Back in 1978, the then Labour Prime Minister James Callaghan lost his nerve in creating a May bank holiday, and instead of declaring May Day as a holiday we got the rather ridiculous first Monday in May. Despite it not being May Day it remains contentious, with the Tory right Little Englanders wanting to replace it with a nationalistic UK Day ‘Best of Britain’ celebration in Ocotober. Next year it is to be moved to Friday May 8th to celebrate the 75th anniversary of VE Day.

Without London’s ethnic communities, I think the London march would have died years ago, with Kurds and Turkish communist groups really keeping the event alive and many other nationalities taking part. There is a small hard-core of left wing trade unionists and British communists, as well as various issue groups also.

This year Clerkenwell Green seemed very empty when I arrived at the time marchers were supposed to gather from noon, though more came later, knowing it would only start around 1pm.

But there were a few speeches in front of the Marx Library, notably from an man from the Indian Workers Association about the 100th anniversary of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre  and their demand for a formal apology from Britain and the Venezuelan ambassador who spoke in support of their government against media lies used to promote the  US-inspired and supported right-wing coup

Two unwelcome marchers held a banner with an anti-trans message woman an adult human female. Later following complaints they were challenged by march stewards and forced to leave the march. There is little support for this ‘Terf’ bigotry on the left which almost universally supports LGBTQ+ rights as an important area of human rights.

You can see more pictures at London May Day .

My next post will look at some of the banners on the May Day March


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

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.