Posts Tagged ‘UCU’

Police, Public Sector & Peace Campaign – 2012

Friday, May 10th, 2024

Police, Public Sector & Peace Campaign – Thursday 10th May 2012 saw two rather different marches by workers taking place in London, with a large protest by police and a day of public sector strikes with trade unionists marching to a rally. I also visited the Parliament Square Peace Campaign.


Police March Against Cuts and Winsor

Police, Public Sector & Peace Campaign

An estimated 20,000 police from all 43 forces in England & Wales marched through central London in protest at 20% cuts in police budget and proposed restructuring following the Winsor review. Other groups including Occupy and Right To Protest and others joined in call for justice in the policing of protest.

Police, Public Sector & Peace Campaign

Police are not allowed to strike or belong to a proper trade union but can join the Police Federation, a staff association that can represent and support their interests. Although it cannot call for strike action it can organise demonstrations such as this one, attended by off-duty police and some family members.

Police, Public Sector & Peace Campaign

It was an impressively large march, but rather dull as it marched past the Home Office, the Houses of Parliament and Downing St, most wearing black caps. The Police Federation had provided 16,000 black caps to represent the number of warranted officers expected to be lost over the next four years due to the cut in the police budget of 20-30%.

Police, Public Sector & Peace Campaign

My pictures concentrate too much on the relatively few officers from some areas who had come with placards. Most simply marched and mainly in silence. A few carried carried small posters with the names of officers who had been unable to attend due to being at work – and there were some police who were policing the police protest, on rather better behaviour than at some other protests.

Some people also came to protest against the police, with the Space Hijackers setting up a ‘professional protest stall‘ at the side of the march offering advice on making placards and chanting. Most of the police marchers were amused by their chants such as ‘One Solution – Institution’ and some of the mock placards, although there were a few jeers.

Those Police policing the protest were less amused, and threatened the Space Hijackers with arrest unless they removed one of their placards with the well-known acronym ACAB. They also stood in front to try and hide them and other protesters including those with a ‘Defend the Right to Protest’ who were shouting slogans against police violence and over deaths in custody for which there is seldom if any justice.

Some from Occupy London had come with plastic police helmets to join in the march, saying they were not against the police but called for a force that worked for the 99% rather than the 1%, or as one long-winded placard put it, “A fully, Publicly funded, democratically accountable Police force who’s aims and objectives enshrine the right to peaceful Protest in some sort of People’s Charter!”

Others taking part on the march included Ian Puddick who got intimidated, attacked and prosecuted by City of London Terrorism Police and Counter Terrorism Directorate in an operation costing millions carried out on behalf of a giant US security corporation after he discovered his wife had been having an affair with one of her bosses. He marched with a sign ‘Police Corruption‘ and unfortunately there is still a great deal of that as well as racism in forces around the country.

More on My London Diary at Police March Against Cuts and Winsor.


Public Sector Pensions Strike and March

Unite, PCS and UCU were holding a one day strike against public sector cuts in pensions, jobs and services. Many had been up in the early hours picketing at their workplaces long before I arrived in London, but there were still pickets in place when I visited Tate Britain and walked past the House of Commons on my way to a rally outside St Thomas’ Hospital on the opposite bank of the Thames.

I arrived late for the rally there and people were just getting ready to march to a larger rally at Methodist Central Hall.

Workers are incensed by increases in their pension contributions and plans to increase them further. They are also worried by the increasing state retirement age which also applies to their pensions. Now in 2024 it is 66 and will increase to 67 between 2026 and 2028. A further rise to 68 is planned and the date for that is likely to be brought forward – as the rise to 67 was.

As they marched, people were chanting “Sixty-eight – is TOO Late“. Pensioners also feel they are being cheated by the government’s decision to index them to the CPI inflation rather than the higher RPI inflation figures, which will mean them receiving some 15-20% less. Over 94% of Unite’s NHS members voted to reject the government’s proposals and take strike action today along with members from the Ministry of Defence and government departments as well as others from the PCS and UCU.

I left the marchers as they went into the rally at Central Hall and returned to photograph the police march and visit the peace camp in Parliament Square.

More pictures at Public Sector Pensions Strike and March.


4000 Days in Parliament Square

I went to talk with Barbara Tucker who was continuing the Parliament Square Peace Campaign begun by Brian Haw on the 2nd June 2001. The protest, continued by her and other supporters was about to reach a total of 4000 days of 24 hour protest in the square, with others in the group maintaining the presence on those various occasions when Brian or Barbara was arrested and held overnight.

They had then continued for almost 11 years despite constant harassment years by police, who have been pressured by politicians – as well as passing two Acts of Parliament intended to end the protest.

As I wrote in 2012:

A few hours before I arrived, police had come and spent 90 minutes “searching” the few square meters of their display in the early morning, and three days later, at 2.30am on Sunday 13 May, police and Westminster Council came and took away the two blankets that Barbara Tucker, no longer allowed to have any “structure designed solely or mainly to sleep in” by law was using to survive in the open. This was apparently one of two visits over the weekend by police and council in which they illegally removed property from the site.

4000 Days in Parliament Square.

Despite an increase in harassment as a great attempt was made to clean up the capital for the Olympics, the peace protest continued in the square for another year, with Barbara Tucker starting a hunger strike in January 2013. Eventually she became too ill to continue and the protest came to an end in May 2013.


FlickrFacebookMy London DiaryHull PhotosLea ValleyParis
London’s Industrial HeritageLondon Photos

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


Blizzard, Education and Hunger Strike – 2018

Wednesday, February 28th, 2024

Blizzard, Education and Hunger Strike – London hasn’t had a great deal of snow for some years, but when I got off the bus on Wednesday 28th February 2018 close to London University I found myself walking into a blizzard. There was a couple of inches of snow underfoot and the biting wind was driving dense snowflakes into my face making it both difficult to walk and hard to see where I was going.

Blizzard, Education and Hunger Strike

I slipped a few times and almost fell as I walked through Byng Place, only just managing to stop myself and my camera bag falling into the snow, and for the first 15 or 20 minutes after I reached the meeting point for the march it was difficult to take pictures, with snowflakes landing on the lens surface as soon as I took away the cloth I had stuffed against it inside the lens hood and raised the camera to my eye.

Blizzard, Education and Hunger Strike

Most of the pictures from the start of the protest were ruined by snow on the lens making some areas soft and diffuse. It might sometimes have been an arty effect but wasn’t what I wanted. Fortunately after a while the snow died down and I was able to work more normally, though the occasional flake kept coming and there were a few thick flurries later on the march.

Blizzard, Education and Hunger Strike

HE and FE march for pensions and jobs

Blizzard, Education and Hunger Strike

The UCU was on the fifth day of a strike to try and get the universities to talk with them about pay and pensions. On this march to a rally in Methodist Central Hall in Westminster, close to the Houses of Parliament, they were joined by staff from London FE colleges on the first day of a two-day strike over pay and conditions. And plenty of their students had come along to show their support.

Although students are now paying high fees for their university courses, the pay of university teachers has not benefited from this, and has not kept up with inflation. Much more teaching at universities is also being done by graduate students and others on part-time or often zero hours contracts.

What particularly inflamed the situation was the intention of the universities to end the long-established pension scheme, replacing it with one that would greatly reduce pensions, and their refusal to discuss this with their union, the UCU.

The 5 day strike was supported overwhelmingly by UCU members and had shut down 61 UK universities, despite draconian threats by the management at some of them such as Royal Holloway (RHUL). Pickets had stood in the freezing weather and few people had crossed the picket line.

The move away from the pension scheme was largely driven by a small number of universities, particularly the Oxbridge colleges. Many of these are extremely wealthy, some owning huge areas of land including large parts of London and having vast reserves, not least in their wine cellars. A number of college principals had given their support to the union.

The dispute between the employers and the UCU continued for five years and was only ended in October 2023 when the employer body UUK made an offer of full restoration. This came after 69 days of strikes by the UCU and was a historic victory for UCU members and reversed further cuts made in 2022.

University teachers continue to fight for better pay, more appropriate workloads and job security. FE teachers, marching because of the loss of 15,000 jobs in the sector particularly as adult education has been savaged by austerity, and whose wages had been cut by 21% since 2009, continue to be treated unfairly.

I went into the rally in Central Hall largely to try to get warm after the freezing march, and was fortunate to arrive early enough to get inside – many of the marchers were left outside the the cold where the speakers went outside to speak after making their contributions in the hall.

The event was running late because of the larger than expected number of people on the march, and by the time the main speakers, John McDonnell and Frances O’Grady had performed I’d missed the time for another event I’d planned to cover, the handing in of some NHS petitions at the Department of Health. I But I was pleased to be able to stay longer in the warm.

HE & FE rally for pensions and jobs
HE and FE march for pensions and jobs


Solidarity with Yarl’s Wood hunger strikers – Home Office

I left the Methodist Central Hall and walked down to the Home Office where an emergency protest was taking place to support the hunger strike and refusal to work by the 120 women and a few men in immigration detention at Yarl’s Wood.

They had begun their action a week earlier to demand the Home Office respect the European Convention of Human Rights and end the separation of families, end indefinite detention with a 28 day maximum detention period, end charter flights which deport people without notice, and end the re-detention of those released from detention.

Their statement also called for an amnesty for those who have been in the UK for more than ten years and for the Home Office to stop deporting people before cases and appeals have been completed, as well as making full disclosure of all evidence to immigration tribunals.

They called for those in detention centres to be treated with dignity and respect and be given proper health care and an end to the detention of highly vulnerable people. They also want an end to employment in detention centres at ‘prison wages’ of £1 an hour.

Among the groups supporting the protest were the Movement for Justice, All African Women’s Group, Queer Strike and No Borders. Some of those taking part in the protest had previously served time in detention centres and knew first hand about the shameful way the UK treats them and some spoke at the event and several of those taking part in the hunger strike were able to speak to the protest from inside Yarls Wood by mobile phone.

Solidarity with Yarl’s Wood hunger strikers


FlickrFacebookMy London DiaryHull PhotosLea ValleyParis
London’s Industrial HeritageLondon Photos

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


Climate, Pay & Pensions – 2019

Wednesday, November 29th, 2023

Climate, Pay & Pensions – Friday 29th November 2019 was ‘Black Friday’ for some but for others it was ‘Buy Nothing Day’ and Climate Strike students were on the march, while separately University lecturers and others in the UCU along with students and other supporters were marching to Parliament in support of their 8 day strike over pensions, pay and conditions.


Youth Climate Strike March

Climate, Pay & Pensions

Over a thousand mainly school students met in Parliament Square to demand the government and other governments world-wide take urgent action to avoid the worst consequences of climate change.

Climate, Pay & Pensions

They demanded a Green New Deal to save their future and for the school curriculum to make clear the urgent need for changes in attitudes and action.

Climate, Pay & Pensions

Of course their protest fell on deaf ears in the Tory government, and although it did seem for some time that the Labour opposition was beginning to think seriously about the environmental crisis, as it seems more likely they might get into power their climate polices for a https://www.labourgnd.uk/gnd-explained Green New Deal are rapidly being abandoned and it now seems they are “unlikely to meet its £28bn green pledge at all.”

Climate, Pay & Pensions

Well over a thousand marched up Whitehall and on through Trafalgar Square to Regent Street, intending to go to Oxford Street on ‘Buy Nothing Day’, but police stopped them on Regent Street and diverted them into Mayfair and eventually back to Whitehall and Parliament Square.

Earlier they had been met by a group of XR’s ‘Red Brigade’ mimes who had come to salute the student march.

Many more pictures at Youth Climate Strike March.


UCU March for Planet, Pay and Pensions

The UCU march from London University was on the 4th day of their 8 day strike over pensions, pay and conditions and in solidarity with the Youth Climate Strike also taking place in London the same day.

Some had been on the picket lines since the early morning before the march began in Malet Street.

I saw the march as I came back from Regent Street where I had left the student march as I came on to the North Terrace of Trafalgar Square, and ran down to catch up with the front of the march on Whitehall, close to Downing St.

The march stopped there for some time, lining the road opposite the entrance to Downing St and shouting towards it, before moving on towards Parliament.

As well as their call for proper working conditions and better pay many of the marchers also came calling for changes in what is taught and with posters and placards about climate change. Some had already marched to support the students.

They then marched on to Parliament Square, where I left them as they moved towards a rally.

More pictures UCU March for Planet, Pay and Pensions.


Sandy Suspended – SOAS Shut Down

Sunday, October 29th, 2023

Sandy Suspended – SOAS Shut Down: SOAS management in 2015 made plans to slash £6.5million from the budget for the following academic year by cutting 184 courses and making staff redundant. The plans would also have seen outsourced staff given even worse contracts by the private companies employing them.

Sandy Suspended - SOAS Shut Down

Management, headed by interim director Baroness Valerie Amos, a former adviser to Tony Blair were also attempting to bring the student union to implement the government’s divisive ‘prevent strategy’ and to stop the democratically agreed academic boycott of Israel and the appointment of a liberation co-President of the Students Union.

Sandy Suspended - SOAS Shut Down

Students responded angrily after a leaked document revealed the extent of the cuts and began an occupation of the Brunei Suite on the SOAS site in early October 2015. The suite was not a part of the university’s educational programme, but a money-making business rented out for commercial uses and the students also wanted it to be used by and for the SOAS community.

Sandy Suspended - SOAS Shut Down

During the occupation they used the suite for a number of talks, discussions and various creative events. Management responded by spending several thousand pounds a day on extra security – and when I visited SOAS the only way to enter was through windows and too athletic for me.

Sandy Suspended - SOAS Shut Down

Amos accused the students and staff supporting the occupation of bullying and intimidating behaviour immediately before she then tried to intimidate them by suspending Unison branch secretary Sandy Nicoll over a totally untrue allegation that he had allowed students to occupy the suite.

Sandy Nicoll

The suspension brought an immediate angry response from staff and students at the university who called for a day of action on 29th October. Many teaching and administrative staff refused to cross a picket line and management locked the doors, cancelling lectures in the main building for the day while a long and spirited protest took place outside.

Around 60 Unison members and 20 from the UCU came outin an uofficial action to support him, along with many of the students including student union leaders. Messages of support for Sandy came from colleges and trade unions around the country. A long series of speakers also came to give their support in person.

There was tremendous warm support when Sandy Nicoll himself came up to speak, with people shouting out, cheering and clapping in a truly rapturous welcome. Sandy was suspended on an entirely false charge and there seems to be little chance of the university getting back to normal business until he is reinstated.

At the end of the rally, many of those present took part in the ‘Strikey-Strikey’ dance, a version of the hokey-cokey in a large circle where at the of each verse everyone runs like made into the centre. Afterwards, as I was leaving, people set off smoke flares and paraded with banners and a violin and drums.

Early in November Sandy was reinstated following a number of protests and unofficial walkouts. The huge solidarity he got from workers at the university was a response to his years of support for workers at SOAS and elsewhere, particularly in the long and eventually successful Justice for Cleaners campaign to get them brought back into direct employment.

I was pleased when one of my pictures from this protest of Ed Emery playing his fiddle was buried as a part of the SOAS centenary time capsule in 2016. I was there on the day it was buried but for a protest by the cleaners and left to do other things before the burial.

More pictures at SOAS Shut Down after Sandy suspended.


BEIS Birthday Strike, Ecocide and XR Procession

Saturday, July 15th, 2023

BEIS Birthday Strike, Ecocide and XR Procession: Monday 15th July 2019


BEIS workers begin indefinite strike, Westminster

BEIS Birthday Strike, Ecocide and XR Procession

Low paid cleaning and catering workers at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) on Victoria Street celebrated the third anniversary of their fight for proper pay and conditions with cakes as they walked out on the first ever indefinite strike at a government ministry.

BEIS Birthday Strike, Ecocide and XR Procession

The workers are demanding the London Living Wage and to be directly employed by the department rather than outsourcing companies ISS and Aramark.

BEIS Birthday Strike, Ecocide and XR Procession

As the workers came out on strike hey got a rousing reception from a crowd of around 100 with speeches from one of the strikers, PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka, RMT General Secretary Mick Cash, newly elected UCU general secretary Jo Grady , Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, Labour MP Mary Glindon, National Vice-President of the PCS Zita Holbourne, Sam Gurney, TUC Regional Secretary, Kiri Tunks, Joint President of the NEU and Sandy Nicoll of SOAS Unison who led the succesful campaign to bring workers there back in-house. and one of the strikers.

BEIS Birthday Strike, Ecocide and XR Procession

I stayed long enough to eat a piece of one of the cakes which had been made for the protest, but then had to leave as the party continuned outside BEIS.

More pictures at BEIS workers begin indefinite strike.


XR call for Ecocide Law – Royal Courts of Justice, Strand

BEIS Birthday Strike, Ecocide and XR Procession

Extinction Rebellion was beginning another series of protests in five major cities against the criminal inaction by the government on climate and ecological collapse.

The main theme of the day’s protest was to call for a law making ecocide a criminal offence.

The protesters brought a yacht named after Polly Higgins who fought for years for an Ecocide Law to the Royal Courts of Justice.

They continued her fight blocking the Strand all day with performances, discussions, speeches, music and ceremonies in front of the yacht.

We need urgent action and our government along with most others has failed, continuing with policies which seem designed to make the situation worse and bring life on earth to an end, and XR is certainly bringing that to people’s attention, even if our media are still largely ignoring it and concentrating on trivia. But although I fully support the aims of XR I do find some of XR’s activities – yachts and new-age mumbo jumbo – off putting. In part I guess it’s a class thing – much of their activity seems insufferably middle class. Its probably an age thing too.

XR call for Ecocide Law


XR Summer Uprising procession

Having occupied the street across the front of the Royal Courts of Justice all day, the protesters and their yacht moved on around afternoon tea time to their home for the next three days, on Waterloo Millennium Green, a park area just south of Waterloo Station.

At the front of the procession were banners and a large crowd of people with XR flags, more banners, posters and placards, as well a large pink dodo. Bringing up the rear was the blue yacht named for the late Ecocide Law protester Polly Higgins, on a boat trailer, escorted by police.

When the procession was all on Westminster Bridge it came to a halt and people sat down blocking the road for a short protest against the police violence towards peaceful protesters when they were arresting people during the ‘Garden Bridge‘ occupation of the bridge in April.


There were a few short speeches there and the procession moved on. It came to a halt a little further on after police tried to block it on from moving onto the Millennium Green.

By this time the back of the procession was on its way around the IMAX Waterloo roundabout, and the rush hour was beginning. I hung around for around half an hour before deciding it was time to get on a train home. But by stopping the protest police had brought a large area of south London quite unnecessarily to a standstill.

Many more pictures at XR Summer Uprising procession.


End outsourcing at University of London

Tuesday, April 25th, 2023

End outsourcing at University of London: Five years ago, on Wednesday 25th April 2018 I was with workers from the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain – IWGB on the first day of a two day strike at the University of London central administration by over 100 cleaners, porters, security officers, receptionists, gardeners, post room staff and audiovisual staff.

End outsourcing at University of London

They were calling for an end to the outsourcing of their jobs in the university to various contracting companies and demanding to be directly employed by the University, and receive the same conditions and benefits as directly employed colleagues. As well as the workers, academics, students and other trade unionists came to support them in a lively rally outside the gates to Stewart House in Russell Square..

End outsourcing at University of London

The rally was part of a successful campaign led by the IWGB which began in 2010 and ten years later the university central administration changed to directly employ porters, receptionists, post room and audio visual technicians, with cleaners following shortly after in November 2020.

End outsourcing at University of London

The IWGB are still campaigning to bring workers in-house in other universities in London, including UCL, and they and other unions have been successful elsewhere. United Voices of the World are one of these and some of their members had come to the rally to show their support.

Here’s what the IWGB say about their campaign:

Cleaners and security staff at universities across London are organising for equality with directly-employed staff!

Outsourced workers suffer from far worse terms and conditions than directly-employed colleagues, facing no sick pay, bare minimum holiday entitlement and meagre pensions. Bullying, mismanagement and discrimination by unaccountable outsourced managers are common.

Workers in the IWGB union are leading the fightback. Through public campaigning and strike action we can end outsourcing at London universities!

End outsourcing at University of London

Among the speakers at the gates of Senate House was Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell who also brought support from Jeremy Corbyn and promised a Labour government would bring in new trade union laws and end the unfairness of outsourcing. Unfortunately should we now get a Labour government at the next election its policies will be more about protecting company profits than protecting workers.

There were plenty of others as well as IWGB members who spoke, and one was a woman from UCU at Goldsmiths University who had come with a large donation from them to the strike fund.

Billy Bragg came to give his support, singing three songs, and got us joining in on some of them, and Archie Shuttlebrace sang with Rebecca Wade Morris. Chip Hamer (Grim Chip) and another of the poets from Poetry on the Picket Line performed some of their work.

Then it was time for a march around Russell Square, with over 200 people briefly holding up traffic. The march was lead by the yellow Precarious Workers Mobile three-wheeler and a samba band.

They returned to the gates of Stewart House and the rally continued with more music, poetry and dancing.

More at End outsourcing at University of London


3 Cosas at London University 2013

Sunday, July 17th, 2022

3 Cosas at London University 2013

3 Cosas at London University 2013: The protest around the University of London Senate House on Wednesday 17th July 2013 was part of a long running campaign to get all workers at the university decent pay and conditions of service. At it’s root was the attempt by the university to dissociate itself from any responsibility for many lower-paid staff – cleaners, security, catering – whose work is essential to the running of the university by employing them indirectly through outsourcing companies.

These staff work alongside others directly employed by the university who get good contracts with decent provision of pensions, holiday entitlement and sickness pay, but are on rock-bottom contracts, receiving only the statutory minimum requirements. Things are usually made worse by bullying managers from the outsourcing companies who overload the workers and often fail to provide proper safety equipment for the jobs.

Some Unison branches, along with students from the University of London Union and some teaching staff and others from neighbouring London Universities had worked successfully together to improve wages and conditions of these lower paid staff, with protests in 2010-2011 getting the London Living Wage for the workers. They had now joined together to campaign for ‘3 Cosas’ – the three causes of sick pay, holiday pay and pensions, with the Spanish title reflecting the background of many of the university cleaners in London’s Latin-American community.

Green Party leader Natalie Bennett

Unison nationally had publicly dissociated itself from the protests by some local branches and had failed to support either for the successful Living Wage Campaign or the new 3 Cosas campaign. The Senate House Unison Branch had recently elected branch officers who supported the campaigns but the results of the election were annulled by the Unison union leadership.

This led to almost all of the outsourced workers and some of those directly employed leaving Unison in protest, joining the grass roots IWGB which had been active in its support and now represented a majority of the outsourced workers. Despite this the university refused to engage with the IWGB, continuing to recognise the far more submissive Unison who seem not to care about the low paid workers.

The protest on this day was larger and angrier than usual, as the University had called in police the previous day to handle a student protest – and police had arrested a young woman who had chalked a slogan on a wall plaque, charging her with criminal damage. Chalk was used by the protesters as it causes no damage and is easily wiped off.

The 3 Cosas campaign has received support from branches and officials of other trade unions, including the RMT and UCU, the university and college teachers. And among those who came to give their support was Green Party Leader Natalie Bennett who spoke briefly before have to rush off to a BBC interview.

Outside Stewart House

The protest began just outside the Senate House and as Bennett left the protesters moved into the open lobby area underneath the bottom of the building for a noisy few minutes chanting ‘Sick Pay, Holidays, Pensions, Now!’ and other slogans, blowing whistles and horns and using megaphone siren sounds to the accompaniment of some highly dynamic drumming from the SOAS samba band.

They then walked out from there and marched around the street to the south of the building opposite the British Museum North Entrance where there was a brief rally mainly to make those going into the museum aware of why they were protesting.

They walked back onto the university site for another noisy protest outside Stewart House, then back underneath Senate House where they stopped to listen to a speech from the ULU Vice-President. IWGB organiser Alberto Durango then invited everyone to go across the road and make their presence felt in front of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, where the IWGB is just starting to fight for the cleaners there to get the London Living Wage.

After a few minutes there they returned for a final session at the Senate House for some final speeches. The woman who had been arrested for chalking the previous day was one of those holding a No Justice No Peace’ banner in front of a line of security staff blocking the entrance, and there were calls urging the university to drop the charge of criminal damage, and some of those present chalked slogans on the tarmac in a show of solidarity.

Many more pictures at London University Cleaners Protest


Police & Public Sector March, 4,000 Days

Tuesday, May 10th, 2022

PPolice & Public Sector March, 4,000 Days of the Parliament Square Peace Campaign approaches – some of my pictures from Thursday 10th May 2012.


Police March Against Cuts and Winsor – Westminster

Occupy supporters in plastic helmets joined the police march

An estimated 20,000 police from all 43 forces in England & Wales marched through central London in protest at 20% cuts in police budget and proposed restructuring following the Winsor review. Occupy, Right To Protest and others joined in to protest for justice in policing.

Police are not allowed to strike or belong to a proper trade union, but the Police Federation can organise demonstrations like this when thousands of off-duty police, some with family members made a impressively large if rather dull protest past the Home Office, the Houses of Parliament and Downing St. Most wore one of the 16,000 black caps produced for the protest, the number of officers expected to be lost over the next four years as the police budget is cut by 20-30%.

Police officers attempt to intimidate the Space Hijackers

Like other public sector workers, police had suffered a two year wage freeze, as well as increases in pension contributions and many have also had large cuts in overtime. As well as those protesting, police were also on duty controlling the protest, though it was unlikely to get out of hand. But there were others as well as police, including the Space Hijackers who had a stall giving advice on how to protest, and also Occupy protesters who were calling for “a fully, Publicly funded, democratically accountable Police force who’s aims and objectives enshrine the right to peaceful Protest in some sort of People’s Charter!

Others were there to protest against various aspects of police corruption and faced some aggravation from the officers on duty as well as some protesters. The Defend The Right To Protest group reminded police marchers of Alfie Meadows, Sean Rigg, Ian Tomlinson, Jean Charles de Menezes and many others killed or seriously injured by police officers. Officers on duty made some attempts to intimidate some of the non-police protesters – and also photographers covering the event.

More at Police March Against Cuts and Winsor


Public Sector Pensions Strike and March – St Thomas’ Hospital to Westminster

Public sector workers in Unite, PCS and UCU were on a one-day strike against cuts in pensions, jobs and services, and picketed workplaces and marched from a rally at St Thomas’ Hospital across Westminster Bridge to Methodist Central Hall for a further rally.

PCS picket at Tate Britain

Some of the pickets had begun at 5am, and a few were still in place as I walked past workplaces in Westminster – including the Houses of Parliament to meet the marchers coming over Westminster Bridge.

As they marched, many chanted “Sixty-eight – is TOO Late”, as retirement age is set to increase to 68 and beyond, while retirement contributions are increasing. They are also losing out because the government has decided to index pensions to the lower CPI inflation figures which mans they get around 15-20% less. Over 94% of Unite’s NHS members voted to reject the government’s proposals and take strike action today along with members from the Ministry of Defence and government departments as well as others from the PCS and UCU.

More on My London Diary at Public Sector Pensions Strike and March.


4000 Days in Parliament Square – Parliament Square Peace Campaign

Brian Haw came to Parliament Square to begin his protest there on the 2nd June 2001, and the Parliament Square Peace Campaign he started had been there for almost 4,000 days, with a presence night and day, 24 hours a day since then.

Barbara Tucker

After Brian’s death from cancer the protest was continued by Barbara Tucker and other supporters who have maintained the protest on those various occasions when Brian or Barbara was arrested and held overnight. Over the years the campaign has been subjected to frequent illegal harassment by police officers, Westminster Council officials and thinly disguised members of the security service, and laws have been enacted intended to bring the protest to an end.

A few hours before I arrived, police had come and spent 90 minutes “searching” the few square meters of their display in the early morning, and three days later, at 2.30am on Sunday 13 May, police and Westminster Council came and took away the two blankets that Barbara Tucker, no longer allowed to have any “structure designed solely or mainly to sleep in” by law was using to survive in the open. Clearly a blanket is not a structure, and police and council have also removed other items of property. Later her umbrella was also taken away. Barbara’s health deteriorated and she eventually had to leave the square, and the protest finally ended early in May 2013.

4000 Days in Parliament Square


Snow, Pensions & Jobs, Hunger Strikers – 2018

Monday, February 28th, 2022

Snow, Pensions & Jobs, Hunger Strikers – 2018. On Wednesday 28th February 2018 there was a blizzard in London. University and FE teachers marched through it to a rally about pay and pensions and people came to the Home Office to support hunger strikers in the immigration prison at Yarl’s Wood.

London Snow

The snow slacked off a little when I was on the bus but got worse as I walked to Malet St for the start of a march. Most of the pictures I tried to take were ruined by snow flakes landing on the front of the lens faster than I could wipe them off.

London Snow

HE and FE march for pensions and jobs

UCU members were on the the fifth day of their strike to get the universities to talk with them about pensions and pay, and marched from Malet St to Methodist Central Hall close to Parliament for a rally.

They were joined by staff from London FE colleges on the first day of a two-day strike over pay and conditions, and both groups were supported by large numbers of students. The snow made it difficult to take pictures, and at times it was hard to stop from slipping over on compacted snow. Fortunately it eased off a little after the march started, with just occasional showers as we walked through London.

HE and FE march for pensions and jobs

HE & FE rally for pensions and jobs

Sally Hunt of UCU speaks and Kevin Courtney NEU listens at right

Despite the terrible weather there were more marchers than expected and many were left outside the hall. I don’t usually bother to photograph at indoor rallies and haven’t really got the best equipment for it, but on this occasion I was glad to be able to get inside and warm up a little. My camera lenses were also getting a little steamed up and needed to dry out.

Frances O’Grady praises the way that Sally Hunt and the UCU are fighting to keep the pension scheme

I’ve written more about the reasons for the strikes and a little about the rally on My London Diary and won’t repeat that here. Click the link to find more.

HE & FE rally for pensions and jobs


Solidarity with Yarl’s Wood hunger strikers

I stayed longer inside the rally than intended, partly because I was reluctant to leave t he warm hall, but as it came to an end I left to walk to the Home Office, where a protest was taking place in solidarity with the 120 women and men in immigration detention at Yarl’s Wood who were refusing to work and had gone on a hunger strike.

Their action in Yarl’s Wood had started a week earlier and was demanding the Home Office respect the European Convention of Human Rights, end the separation of families, end indefinite detention, with a 28 day maximum detention period, end charter flights which deport people without notice, and end to re-detention of those released from detention.

The also called for an amnesty for those who have been in the country for over 10 years, a stop to deportations before cases are decided and any appeals heard, the proper disclosure of all evidence to the immigration tribunals, adequate health care, an end to detaining of highly vulnerable people, an end to employment at £1 per hour and to be treated with the dignity and respect due to all human beings.

It was a fairly large protest, supported by many groups including Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants, Detained Voices, Black Women’s Rape Action Project, All African Women’s Group, The London Latinxs, Right to Remain, Docs Not Cops and End Deportations as well as Movement for Justice who have organised many protests outside Yarl’s Wood as well as those at other detention centres and led campaigns to close detention centres and support detainees.

Solidarity with Yarl’s Wood hunger strikers