Posts Tagged ‘TUC’

Climate, Malala, TUC, Workfare & Tax Cheats

Friday, October 20th, 2023

Climate, Malala, TUC, Workfare & Tax Cheats: Saturday 20th October 2012was a busy day for protests in London with a huge TUC march against austerity with various groups on its fringes and other smaller protests around.


Against Austerity For Climate Justice! – St Paul’s Cathedral

Climate, Malala, TUC, Workfare & Tax Cheats

The climate block of the TUC ‘A Future That Works’ march held a rally on the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral before marching to join the main TUC march.

Climate, Malala, TUC, Workfare & Tax Cheats

The block was joined people from Occupy London and UK Uncut who made up a ‘No cuts, no tax-dodging’ block.

Climate, Malala, TUC, Workfare & Tax Cheats

The main banner called for a ‘Massive Shift’ to invest in jobs and renewable energy and there were other banners, flags and placards with the Uncut logo calling for an end to tax evasion and tax avoidance.

Climate, Malala, TUC, Workfare & Tax Cheats

I left them as they began to make their way to join the main TUC march, hurrying to Downing Street for an unconnected protest.

More pictures: Against Austerity For Climate Justice!


Edequal Stands with Malala – Downing St

Members of the Edequal Foundation, an educational charity founded by Shahzad Ali and based in north London which supports teachers and students demonstrated in a show of support for Malala Yousufzai, the Pakistani schoolgirl shot by the Taliban because of her campaigning for education for women.

She began her campaign in 2009 by writing a blog under a pseudonym for the BBC about life under Taliban control and was later filmed by the New York Times. She became well-known for these and other interviews and in 2011 was awarded Pakistan’s first National Youth Peace Prize and was nominated by Rev Desmond Tutu for the International Children’s Peace Prize.


Malala was shot in the head by the Taliban while returning by bus from an exam on 9th October 2012 and this made her the centre of international attention and support. After treatment in Pakistan she was transferred to hospital in Birmingham and after recovering settled there continuing her campaigning. She has since received other awards, becoming the youngest person ever to receive a Nobel Peace Prize in 2014 when she was 17.

Edequal Stands with Malala


A Future That Works TUC March – Westminster

The TUC march for ‘A Future That Works’ against austerity was impressively large with a reported 150,000 people taking part.

I’d gone to photograph the marchers going past Parliament and up Whitehall to Traflagar Square and Piccadilly Circus. I’d begun taking pictures about half an hour after the front of the march had passed, and two hours later people were still passing me in a dense mass, waving flags and carrying banners.

Most had come with trade union groups and there were many fine union banners, but there were also others taking part. Police generally stood well back and the march with just a few trade union stewards proceeded peacefully along the route.

Quite a few stopped for some minutes outside Downing Street to shout noisily in the direction of No 10, though I think Prime Minister David Cameron was miles away. Certainly the march had no effect on his policies.

There were a few police here and at other key points, but one group on the march got special attention, with a line of officers in blue caps walking in line on each side of around 200 black-clad anarchists. Earlier I had seen one small group of anarchists being chased by a police FIT team who called in other police to surround them while they attempted to take their photographs.

Many more pictures at A Future That Works TUC March.


Against Workfare and Tax Cheats – Oxford St

Boycott Workfare were “a UK-wide campaign to end forced unpaid work for people who receive welfare.” They say that “Workfare profits the rich by providing free labour, whilst threatening the poor by taking away welfare rights if people refuse to work without a living wage.”

Their campaign was supported by a wide range of organisations including a number of trade union branches and several hundred people turned up on Oxford Street for their protest, including a number dressed in black and masked with scarves or wearing ‘Anonymous’ masks.

They marched to protest at shops and businesses in the area which are taking part in workfare schemes which many of those unemployed had to work without pay or lose their benefits. Many of the shops closed as the protest went part and the protesters briefly occupied others.

Although this had been planned as a ‘a fun and family-friendly action’ and was led by a samba band, while it started peacefully a number of scuffles broke out when police tried to stop or arrest those taking part, and by the time it ended many on both sides were clearly angry.

There was a nasty moment after the protesters had crowded inside a hotel which uses people on workfare on Great Marlborough Street. They made some noise but there was no damage and they would almost certainly have moved on after a few minutes as there were other places to visit. Police entered and tried to forcibly push the protesters out, while police outside were preventing them from leaving. I fortunately avoided injury when pushed down the stairs by police.

From there they returned to Oxford Street and tried to rush into a number of shops known to be using workfare and some also known to be avoiding payment of huge amounts of UK tax. Some got their shutters down and police managed to get to others and block the entrance before the protesters arrived – doing the protesters job for them in closing the shop.

The Salvation Army, one of a number of charities involved in the scheme got a kid glove treatment – with just two protesters standing in the doorway and making short speeches before the protest moved on.

At Marble Arch the protester turned around to march back up towards Oxford Circus, and police tried to put a cordon across the street to stop them. But the gaps between officers were too large and most protesters simply walked through the gaps when officers grabbed one of two of them. Some of the police clearly lost their tempers and many protesters were shouting at them to calm down.

One officer who had tackled a protester was apparently injured and a group of police grabbed a protester and pushed him roughly down on the pavement in front of a shop. As I reported:

While several police forcefully pushed him to the ground, others stood around them. They seemed to see their main purpose as preventing photographers and others from seeing what was happening, with one woman officer in particular following my every move to block my view, while I could hear the protester on the ground shouting that he was not resisting and asking why they kept on hurting him. From the brief glimpses I got as police attempted to prevent me seeing what was happening they appeared to be using entirely unnecessary force.

The protest was continuing but I’d seen enough and taken as many pictures as I could over the day and it was time to go home.

More at Against Workfare and Tax Cheats.

Cable Street – Labour Lost

Monday, October 9th, 2023

Cable Street – Labour Lost: Over recent days I’ve seen a number of posts and articles celebrating the ‘Battle of Cable Street’, when people from the East End of London prevented a march through their streets by Oswald Mosley and the British Union of Fascists on October 4th 1936.


Battle of Cable Street 80 March – Altab Ali Park & Cable St

Cable Street - Labour Lost

Back on Sunday 9th October 2016 along with many others I went to Cable Street to celebrate the 80th anniversary of that event, and here are a few of the pictures that I made.

Cable Street - Labour Lost

I also wrote a little about what actually happened back in 1936, though of course I wasn’t around then, so what I know about it relies on what others have written and said, including the testimonies I’ve heard over the years from some of those who were there and have spoken at this and various earlier celebrations.

Cable Street - Labour Lost

Cable Street has acquired a mythical status that it doesn’t entirely deserve, or at least one which distorts the actual nature of the event. It certainly was not a great victory for the organised left – with the Labour Party actively urging people to stay away. They urged people instead to attend a rally in Hyde Park, miles away in West London. If anything it was a victory for the ordinary common decency and solidarity of the working class population of the area who came out and fought the police (and generally not the fascists) who were trying to clear the streets to allow Mosley and his blackshirts to march. A victory for the kind of community self-organisation which is at the centre of anarchism.

Cable Street - Labour Lost

So in 2016 for me the anarchist groups taking part were the real centre of attention rather than the more official aspects of the celebration – this was really their day, though none were invited to speak at the official rallies at the start or finish of the event. And here I’ll repeat a little of what I wrote about the event 4 years ago.

“Probably many of those present already knew that the battle wasn’t fought by the political parties – Labour told people to stay away and urged them to protest in Hyde Park, while the official communist party opposed any opposition on the streets until almost the last minute, when it was pretty clear it was going to happen anyway.

“It was the community that came out onto the streets. People from the mainly Jewish areas of the East End, trade unionists, communist rank and file and Irish dock workers. Men and women in a grass roots movement opposed to Mosley, people who knew that they would be the victims if he came to power. And of course the battle was not against Mosley, but against the police.

“Of course there were communists and socialists among those who came out on the streets, and some who played a leading role. But it was essentially a victory for the working class left, for the anarchists and for many without political affiliations who came together spontaneously to defend their place and their people.

“It wasn’t a great defeat for Mosley and his National Socialists; they actually became more active in the East End after it, and areas such as Bethnal Green remained strongly supporting the Nazis. There was an even larger ‘battle’ the following year in Bermondsey. But Cable Street was undoubtedly an important event for the left, and one that has come to be associated with a much greater battle of the era, the Spanish Civil War. Cable Street radicialised many on the left.”

Many more pictures and more comments on My London Diary:
Black bloc rally at the Cable St Mural
Battle of Cable Street 80 March
Battle of Cable Street 80 Rally


BP Greenwashing & Benefits Cuts

Friday, May 19th, 2023

BP Greenwashing & Benefits Cuts – Thursday 19th May 2016 – Seven years ago today.


Greenpeace ‘Sinking Cities’ banners at BM/BP show – British Museum

BP Greenwashing & Benefits Cuts

There are some protests which are advertised well in advance and other actions which are kept highly secret with only a small group taking part being in the know. And the action on the opening day of the BP sposored exhibition Sinking Cities at the British Museum was definitely one of the latter.

I heard about it only as I was on my way up to London for another event close by, and detoured slightly to cover it. I live on the edge of London, just inside the M25 and can’t usually respond to ‘breaking news’ as it takes me too long to get there.

BP Greenwashing & Benefits Cuts

Clearly the BP sponsorship of ‘Sinking Cities’ was going to be controversial as there has been a long campaign, particularly by ‘BP or Not BP’ to get the British Museum to end the deal which has allowed BP to ‘greenwash’ their polluting and climate destroying activities, which have significantly contributed to global warming and so to recent floods in cities across the globe.

Greenpeace had come with very professionally produced large banners for ‘Sinking Cities’, naming some of the places which have been flooded recently by global warming induced climate change and had managed to come inside and hang this down the columns across the front of the museum’s Main entrance. At first glance they really looked as if they were a part of the Museum’s own publicity.

BP Greenwashing & Benefits Cuts

It really was impressive, and the Museum had been caught on the hop, reacting in panic they closed the whole museum for the day, dissapointing many who had come. This seemed unnecessary as the museum could simply have closed this front entrance to deal with the climbers and remove the banners. The climbers on the columns were obviously experienced and operating safely and apparently without damage to the museum structure.

It served as rather a good advertising stunt for the show, but of course was rather embarrassing for the sponsors BP which is why the Museum felt it necessary to remove them. Most other major arts organisations in London including the Tate Museums, the Royal Opera House and the National Portrait Gallery had dropped BP as a sponsor following pressure by protests such as these and pressure from artists, musicians and staff who work in them.

‘Sinking Cities’ banners at BM/BP show


No More Deaths from Benefit Cuts – Tottenham Court Rd

BP Greenwashing & Benefits Cuts

I had come to London that morning as delegates at the TUC disabled workers conference led by activists from Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC), Mental Health Resistance Network (MHRN) and Winvisible (Women with visible and invisible disabilities) were to hold a lunchtime protest which I had been invited to photograph.

They came out and marched, led by people in wheelchairs from Congress House to Tottenham Court Road calling for an end to government benefit cuts which have led to the deaths of many disabled people – including 2 DPAC members the previous day.

Two long banners gave the message ‘NO MORE DEATHS FROM BENEFIT CUTS’ and on arriving at Tottenham Court Road they held these across the road stopping traffic in both directions.

Another banner was full of the names of some of those known to have died because of sanctions and cuts in benefits, among them David Clapson, a diabetic ex-soldier who died penniless, alone and starving after being sanctioned. He didn’t even have enough money to keep the refrigerator to store his insulin running.

Another banner asked the question ‘IS THIS HOW 2 TREAT Disabled People?’. The protesters held a short and noisy rally, getting considerably support from many around including many workers also on their lunch breaks. There were a few short speeches before it was time for the protesters to march back for the afternoon session at Congress House, with a police officer arriving just as they were about to leave. As usual he is confused to find that no-one is in charge.

When the Tories got into power, at first in coalition in 2010, they determined they would save money by cutting benefits thinking the disabled would be an easy target. Groups such as DPAC and the others at this event have shown them how wrong they were. These people rely on benefits to live and to have a decent life and have organised and reacted to try to retain them against the government’s attacks.

More at No More Deaths from Benefit Cuts.

May Day in London 2013

Monday, May 1st, 2023

May Day in London

For once this year May Day falls on a Bank Holiday – as it should every year, but in 1978 James Callaghan’s Labour government bottled it when establishing the Early May Bank Holiday. So it only falls on May 1st once every six or seven years – as it last did in 2017.

May Day in London

So in other years many of us have to work on May Day, although since I gave up regular full-time work as a teacher I’ve been able to attend the London May Day March every year except when prevented by illness or lockdown.

May Day in London

Most years here on >Re:PHOTO I’ve written something about the early origins of May Day and how in 1889 it was adopted as the date for International Workers’ Day by the Second International socialists and communists, and then adopted by anarchists, labour activists, and leftists in general around the world to commemorate the 1886 Chicago Haymarket affair and the struggle for an eight-hour working day.

May Day in London

London has a May Day Organising Committee which arranges the event, which is supported by “GLATUC, LESE, UNite London & Eastern Region, CWU London Region, PCS London & South East Region, ASLEF, RMT, MU London, BECTU, FBU London & Southern Regions, GMB London & Southern Regions, Unison Greater London Region, POA, NEU London, NPC, GLPA & other Pensioners bodies and organisations representing Turkish, Kurdish, Chilean, Colombian, Peruvian, Bolivian, Portuguese, West Indian, Indian, Sri Lankan, Cypriot, Tamil, Iraqi, Iranian, Irish and Nigerian migrant workers & communities plus many other trade unions & Community organisations.”

As the list shows, it has a very international nature – as too does London, and visually tends to be dominated by large and organised groups from some of London’s minority communities, particularly Turkish and Kurdish groups. But it’s an event supported by most of the left if a few anarchists sometimes come to the start at Clerkenwell Green to hand out leaflets but head for the pub as soon as the march itself starts.

Here are some pictures from ten years ago, Wednesday 1st May 2013. There are more on My London Diary, which also has some of the history of the event at London May Day March. I also posted a few pictures of the area to the north before the march as I arrived early, at Finsbury (though some are in Clerkenwell) as well as a piece about the TUC May Day Rally at the end of the march.


UN Anti-Racism Day 2017 & 2023

Saturday, March 18th, 2023

UN Anti-Racism Day 2017 & 2023

Today, 18th march is the UN Anti-Racism Day, and in 2017 it was also a Saturday, and tens of thousands marched through London, starting as they will today outside the BBC and ending with a large rally in Westminster.

UN Anti-Racism Day 2017 & 2023

Today’s march, as in 2017, is organised by Stand Up to Racism, Unite Against Fascism and Love Music, Hate Racism and the TUC and supported by many other groups, including football fans from around the country who will be wearing team colours.

UN Anti-Racism Day 2017 & 2023

This years march is perhaps even more important, with the UK Government pursuing clearly racist policies against immigrants in last year’s Nationality and Borders Act, its attempt to deport refugees to Rwanda and Suella Braverman’s recently announced Illegal Migration Bill.

Phyll Opoku of PCS ‘Stand Up to Racism’

Football fans have been energised by the BBC’s reaction to Gary Lineker’s tweet. He was clearly correct in observing the hostile anti-refugees language used by the government to language used in Germany in the 1930s. They say the government are trying to stir up division and racism to deflect attention from their multiple crises and turn refugees into scapegoats.

Unfortunately it isn’t just the government, but also the official opposition who continue to up the ante over immigration, refusing to stand up to the government with any real attempt to improve our treatment of refugees and asylum seekers. Real opposition to racism has been left to a few increasingly isolated figures on the left of the party – including many of those who have been ejected for supposed anti-semitism, increasingly being used to expel Jewish members who support the Palestinian people. And of course left to footballers or former footballers.

Even Theresa May, who the 2017 march was strongly opposed to for promoting racist measures against immigrants and in particular Muslims in concert with Donald Trump has found Braverman’s latest proposals which will break international law on the human rights of migrants a step too far.

The 2023 march organisers say:

In Britain we face a crisis-ridden government attempting to use racism to make ordinary people pay for the cost of living crisis. The ‘Rwanda plan’, the Nationality and Borders Act, racist deportations and the hostile environment for refugees and migrants are all about divide and rule.

The government deny the reality of institutional racism – despite massively disproportionate deaths in black communities during the pandemic – and the reality of deaths in police custody, racist stop and search and discrimination across society.

Internationally we are seeing the growth of the racist and fascist right and an alarming rise in Islamophobia, antisemitism, Sinophobia, anti East/South East Asian racism and attacks on Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities.

Despite a rail strike this Saturday I hope to be there later today, again taking photographs and marching with many thousands of others.

Much more from the 2017 march and rally on My London Diary: Thousands March Against Racism.


Democracy, Wages, the Blessed Sacrament & Class War

Tuesday, October 18th, 2022

Saturday October 18th 2014 saw a huge march organised by the TUC calling for a pay rise for workers as Britain is recovering from the financial crash and bosses were getting big increases in earnings and bonuses but the workers were still suffering.

On my way there I called in to Parliament Square where Occupy Democracy who I had been with the previous evening were still attempting to take over the area – and I went back again after the TUC march.

Then for something completely different I went to Westminster Cathedral to photograph the start of the Procession of the Blessed Sacrament from there to Southwark Cathedral.

Finally there was a Poor Doors Saturday Night Special at One Commercial St, Aldgate, where Class War’s ranks were augmented by activists who had been attending the Anarchist Book Fair earlier in the day.


Democracy Camp takes the Square – Parliament Square

I had come the previous evening with Occupy Democracy for a rally in Parliament Square where they hoped to set up camp, but police and heritage wardens had kept them off the grass, and they were still on the paved areas when I visited them on Saturday morning, with a large police presence still managing to prevent them setting up camp.

Many had left the square to take part in the TUC march, and like me returned after the marchers had gone on their way to Hyde Park. Others arrived too, including a group from UK Uncut who walked in with a sound system. There were tense moments as police and Westminster Council officials tried to take this from them, but eventually they were allowed to leave with their equipment with the warning that they had to take it away from Parliament Square or it would be taken from them.

Shortly after more people arrived including those who had been carrying two large wood and fabric towers, one with the words POWER and OCCUPY and the other the word DEMOCRACY. Together with other protesters they ran onto the grass square and raised the towers, with police unable to stop them. Others followed them onto the grass and began a rally, with speakers including Labour MP John McDonnell, Occupy’s George Barda, environmentalist Donnachadh McCarthy and Russell Brand.

Police reinforcements began to muster around the square and it seemed a battle was inevitable. But suddenly the police disappeared, probably realising that the presence of Brand in particular would would have generated massive and largely negative media coverage. Much better to come back late at night and do it after the mass media had left (which they did.)

Many more pictures at Democracy Camp takes the Square.


Britain Needs A Pay Rise – Embankment

Over 80,000 marchers had come to call for workers to share in the economic recovery where company chief executives now earn 175 times the average worker, and nurses, teachers and others in the public and private sector are £50 a week worse off than in 2007.

I don’t often bother to photograph ‘press calls’ but I arrived just in time for this one well before the march started, with Frances O’Grady in a bright red dress in front of the main banner with people holding up the figures 1, 7 and 5. And I stayed in front of the march to photograph the leaders holding the banner until it set off.

I stopped a few yards along the route where the light was better and photographed group after group of marchers, including many from the NHS and other public service unions whose members have been particularly badly treated by the government’s pay freezes.

Pat Arrowsmith

Towards the back of the march were many more radical groups, including those I’ve photographed often at other protests, with many familiar faces. In particular I was pleased to have a short talk with veteran peace protester Pat Arrowsmith of CND who I’d several times walked beside on the way to Aldermaston.

As the end of the march went past me I left to cover other events. There would be long speeches at the rally in Hyde Park!

Britain Needs A Pay Rise


Procession of the Blessed Sacrament – Westminster Cathedral to Southwark

I waited outside Westminster Cathedral for people to emerge after the blessing of the sacrament as no photography was allowed inside.

The procession was led by a group mainly in white tops, some carrying lighted altar candles and a man with a crucifix on a stick and I photographed them as they waited for the procession to form up behind them. The wind soon extinguished their candles.

Some way back in the procession were more people wearing clerical dress with one in more ornate robes carrying the Blessed Sacrament, holding it in his cape and another holding an offi-white umbrella over him and the sacrament.

Two African women in ‘Sacred Heart of Jesus’ dresses carried a banner with an unlikely looking Jesus, but most of those that followed were in more normal dress. Some seemed rather unhappy or suspicious about being photographed.

I went with the procession to Lambeth Bridge and then returned to Parliament Square and the Democracy Camp.

Procession of the Blessed Sacrament


Poor Doors Saturday Night Special – One Commercial St, Aldgate

Protesters lit by the headlights of the cars they were blocking

Class War who had been holding regular weekly protests for several months against the separate doors for rich and poor residents at One Commercial St, Aldgate, had called a special protest as the Anarchist Book Fair had been taking place earlier just a short distance away.

Quite a few of those who had travelled to London for the Book Fair came down to take part in the protest. It made my photography a little more difficult as the pavement was rather crowded, and there were many taking part who didn’t know me – and some anarchists are keen not to be photographed.

It was good to see a few new banners – including one from the Durham Miners Association – and the protest was enlivened with samba from Rhythms of Revolution and some songs from Cosmo, who got a Class War sticker added to the others on his guitar, as well as some rousing speeches.

There were rather more police around, including a group of seven guarding the poor door, probably becuase residents from the rich side of the building were having to use this as the protest blocked the rich door. There were enough police there as well to stop the protesters getting into the building when they made a brief rush at one point.

The protest ended with everyone surging onto the busy Whitechapel High St and blocking it for around ten minutes – unfortunately as my flash unit decided to go into erratic mode. Fortunately the headlights of the cars stopped by the protest provided some lighting when the flash failed to do so.

Poor Doors Saturday Night Special





Ten Years Ago – 30 Nov 2011

Tuesday, November 30th, 2021

Occupy protesters outrun police down Haymarket

Ten years ago today on Wednesday 30th November the TUC called a one day general strike over the government plans to cut public service pensions and their failure to enter any meaningful discussion with the trade unions on them.

The Southern & Eastern Region of the TUC, SERTUC, organised a march and rally in London, and at least 20,000 people came for a peaceful march through the capital. At the head of the march was TUC Deputy General Secretary Frances O’Grady, along with leaders of several of the other unions and professional associations taking part in today’s strike by public sector workers.

Frances O’Grady, Dep Gen Sec of the TUC and NASUWT president John Rimmer and a French trade unionist

Along with many strikers, including many taking strike action and marching for the first time there were also others who came to join them, including students and groups including UK Uncut and activist groups such as the Education Activist Network and other student groups, and a number of people wearing ‘Anonymous’ Guy Fawkes ‘V for Vendetta’ masks.

Some of these people began walking ahead of the official march and police stretched a line of officers across Aldwych stopping both them and the march behind them, but eventually they let the march continue. Although the march was going to Parliament along the Embankment, police had closed off Whitehall and created more traffic chaos than the large march.

UK Uncut had come to support the march and were handing out cups of tea from a yard in front of some offices on the square in what they called a ‘solidaritea!!’ action to support the strike.

Later around a hundred protesters from Occupy London rushed into the building in which mining company Xstrata has its offices in a protest against Mick Davies, its CEO, who they say “is a prime example of the greedy 1% lining their own pockets while denying workers pensions.”

They met at Picadilly Circus under the eyes of around a hundred police watching and photographing them from the steps around Eros, and after around half and hour in intermittent rain a small group rushed across the road to stand outside a branch of Boots with a banner reading ‘Precarious Workers Brigade’, but made no attempt to enter the store, which then quickly put down its metal shutters.

Protesters rush into Panto House

But this was just a diversion, and the rest of the group rushed down Haymarket behind a long banner reading ‘All Power to the 99%’ and then turned abruptly down Panton St and rushed into Panton House. The police had got rather left behind and were unable to stop them, and I followed in after some of the protesters, but got very out of breath rushing up the stairs.

A crowd of protesters make it hard to get up the stairs

I hadn’t picked up completely on what was happening, and failed to get up to the roof where a group of around 20 was continuing the protest against Mick Davies, CEO of mining Company Xstrata and the highest paid CEO in the UK. Police forced me and other protesters still on the stairs to go down and leave the building.

I was disappointed not to get onto the roof with other photographers, but rather pleased that, since it was impossible to take more pictures I could now go home. Those on the roof were kept there by police for rather a long time and those who had hung around on the street outside were also kettled.

See more on My London Diary:

Occupy London Expose Corporate Greed
TUC Nov 30 March


Pay Rise, Occupy, Blessed Sacrament & Poor Doors

Monday, October 18th, 2021

Saturday 18th October 2014 was another long and busy day for me. After briefly looking in at Parliament Square, where a few from Occupy Democracy had defied police to spend the night on the pavement I went to the Embankment where thousands were massing for the TUC ‘Britain Needs a Pay Rise‘ march which was due to begin in a couple of hours time.

I returned to the TUC march a little later for the Press Call, seldom very interesting events to photograph, and then the start of the march where Frances O’Grady was doing her best for the camera.

Things got a little more interesting as the march filed part me, and towards the end of the 80,000 or so I met rather more people I knew, including those with CND, Focus E15, Occupy London, Class War and other radical groups.

An hour and a quarter after the start the people at the back were getting close to the start of the march, and I went back for another look at things in Parliament Square. Not a lot was happening, apart from some illicit sleeping (its a crime there.)

I went on to Westminster Cathedral, arriving in time to meet the Procession of the Blessed Sacrament leaving to walk to St Georges Cathedral in Southwark, and walking with them across Lambeth Bridge, from where I walked back towards Parliament Square.

I arrived back as more people who had been on the TUC march were arriving, including a group from UK Uncut dancing to a music centre on a shopping trolley. Police and a warden from Westminster Council – who are responsible for the pavement opposite the Houses of Parliament came and tried to seize the music centre, but after much argument allowed the to keep it so long as they left the square.

Shortly afterwards others arrived, with a group of anarchists running across the grass with black flags, chased by ‘heritage wardens’, then others poured onto the grass with the two towers with the messages ‘Power’ and ‘Democracy’ they had carried on the TUC march. A rally then took place, gathered around these to protect them, with John McDonnell MP as the first speaker, while police lined the edge of the square watching. Then small groups of police began to gather, ready to charge, and police reinforcements arrived; it seemed only a matter of minutes before they tried to clear the area.

But after Russell Brand arrived to speak, the police rapidly melted away and the many vans drove off. I suspect they knew that had they attacked when he was present there would have been massive media coverage and decided it was better to come back at dead of night after most of the press and TV have left – as they did.

I left to go to Aldgate, where Class War were holding a Poor Doors Saturday Night Special against the separate doors for rich and poor residents at One Commercial St, Aldgate, with a larger than usual group who had come from the nearby Anarchist Book Fair. It was a livelier protest than usual with samba from Rhythms of Revolution and some songs from Cosmo up from Wales for the event, as well as a rather larger than usual police presence.

Inevitably at the end of the protest the group decided to move onto the busy Whitechapel High Street and block it, ignoring orders by the police to leave the highway. It’s a fairly dark area of street and my flash unit was having problems, but I managed to make a few pictures, some by the headlights of the blocked cars. After around ten minutes the protesters decided it was time to leave the road and end the protest, and I went home.

More at:

Poor Doors Saturday Night Special
Procession of the Blessed Sacrament
Britain Needs A Pay Rise
Democracy Camp takes the Square


Workers’ Memorial Day

Wednesday, April 28th, 2021

April 28th is International Workers’ Memorial Day

As the TUC points out:

Every year more people are killed at work than in wars. Most don’t die of mystery ailments, or in tragic “accidents”. They die because an employer decided their safety just wasn’t that important a priority. International Workers’ Memorial Day (IWMD) 28 April commemorates those workers.

https://www.tuc.org.uk/wmd

The day is commemorated around the world and is officially recognised by the UK Government. It is a day both to remember those we have lost and importantly to organise in their memory. The motto is ‘Remember the dead, fight for the living‘.

Each year the International Trades Union Congress sets a theme for the day and for 2021 this is:

Health and Safety is a fundamental workers’ right

There is a dedicated web site for the day set up by the ITUC and Hazards magazine which gives information about IWMD events in over 25 countries and an annual hashtag – this year #iwmd21. The ILO estimates that there 2.3 million people worldwide die each year because of their work – and there are 340 million workplace injuries.

Covid has brought the need for health and safety protection for workers to the fore – in 2020/21 there were around 8,000 recorded deaths of workers from Covid-19. This year the TUC has organised a national zoom meting and there is an online memorial wall, but there are also various local mainly virtual events.

In most recent years before 2020 I managed to attend the main London event held at the statue of a building worker on Tower Hill, and occasionally to also cover other events around the capital.

An article by Annabelle Humphreys for Talint International lists the most dangerous jobs in the UK, based on information from the Health and Safety Executive. Fishing is the most dangerous of UK industries although the actual numbers of deaths is small. Seven fishermen lost their lives in 2018, but all were cases that were preventable. Waste and recycling also has a small workforce but a high level of ill-health and deaths. It’s hardly surprising also that oil and gas riggers have a high injury rate and that deep sea diving is also a dangerous occupation , though the numbers involved again are low.

What stands out is the construction industry, were 40 UK workers died in 2020 and around 81,000 suffered work-related ill health. Almost half the deaths were from falling from a height, while others died when trapped by things collapsing or overturning or by being hit by falling objects or struck by moving objects or vehicles or by electrocution.

But there are also high levels of deaths in other industries, particularly farming – often cited as the most dangerous of all – and manufacturing. And while Healthcare always has the highest sickness rate in the UK, Covid-19 will have greatly increased the number of deaths in this sector.

November 30th 2011

Monday, November 30th, 2020

November 30th fell on a Wednesday in 2011, and it was the day of a strike by public sector workers against government plans to cut their pensions as part of the austerity programme following the banking crisis. As I wrote back then:

Feelings are certainly running very high over pension injustice, as well as over the government cuts in jobs and services. The widespread feeling across the country – not just trade unionists – that our government is made of of the wealthy and privileged who just do not understand the problems of ordinary people was reflected in the two hand-written placards I photographed, both with photographs of Cameron and Osborne alongside the texts ‘Eton Boys, Do you Feel Our Pain, As You Order Your Champagne‘ and ‘No Cuts For You, Eton Boys!!’

The day had begun early for strikers at Wandsworth Town Hall who had been on the picket line since 6am at the Town Hall and other council sites across the borough, though I only joined them around 4 hours later, when many were about to leave to join the TUC march in central London, and I also made my way to a packed Lincoln’s Inn Fields where around 20,000 were assembling.

As well as public sector workers – including many from associations which have no record of previous strike action or taking part in protests – there were activists from groups such as the Education Activist Network and other student groups, people wearing ‘Anonymous’ Guy Fawkes ‘V for Vendetta’ masks and other supporters, including political artist Kaya Mar with his painting of coalition leader David Cameron and his Lib-Dem sidekick Nick Clegg carrying blood-stained axes.

There were also a group of French trade unionists from the CGT, come to support their English colleagues – here in a picture beside Frances O’Grady, Dep Gen Sec of the TUC and John Rimmer, president of the NASUWT.

More joined the march along the route to Westminster. It was a peaceful march which hardly merited the huge police presence, and I think the French trade unionists will have thought it very restrained, although some groups, particularly some of the students, did liven it up a little with loud chanting and the occasional surge. The rally had already begun when I arrived, although the end of the march was still almost a mile back.

I didn’t wait to hear the speeches, but went to Piccadilly Circus, where Occupy London protesters from the camp outside St Paul’s Cathedral were gathering for a protest against corporate greed. I stood with them for around half an hour while we all waited for something to happen, watched by a large crowd of police. It began with a diversion as around 30 people with the ‘Precarious Workers Brigade’ banner that I’d photographed earlier on the TUC march rushed across the road to protest outside Boots, drawing much of the police attention.

Others by Eros were getting ready the main banner ‘All Power to the 99%’ which they then rushed along the street with the rest of the protesters following, going down Haymarket, and I rushed along with them taking pictures. At Panton St, one of them lit a bright orange flare and they all turned down the street to Panton House, where some rushed into the foyer.

I stopped there to take a few pictures rather than rushing to follow them up the stairs. By the time I turned to follow them the stairs were rather crowded but I made my way up to the third or fourth landing before deciding I was out of breath and probably not going to get to the top as the stairs were too crowded. By then the police had begun to catch up, and stopped me going down. And although police were shouting and me and the others on the stairs to go down, other police were pushing us out of the way when we tried to do so as they rushed up to the roof.

Eventually I managed to make my way out and try to take a few pictures as protesters on the roof lowered banners over the edge while others outside formed a ‘human microphone’ to let everone know what the protest was about.

Occupy London had chosen Panton House as it contains the London offices of the mining Company Xstrata, whose CEO Mick Davies they say is the highest paid CEO in the UK, but according to their statement, “is a prime example of the greedy 1% lining their own pockets while denying workers pensions.”

I was sorry not to have made it to the roof as several other photographers had done, but at least I was able to slip through the police kettle and go home early after a rather tiring day.

More pictures at:

Occupy London Expose Corporate Greed
TUC Nov 30 March
Wandsworth Nov 30 Rally