Posts Tagged ‘trade unionists’

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

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 – 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

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 – 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

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 – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.