Posts Tagged ‘Westfield’

Zero Hours at Sports Direct, Cleaners at John Lewis Westfield

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2022

Zero Hours at Sports Direct, Cleaners at John Lewis Westfield – On Saturday 3rd August 2013 I photographed one of many protests calling for an end to zero hours contracts at Sports Direct branches then hurried to Stratford, where a surprise protest inside the store demanding demanded that their cleaners get a living wage and be treated in the same way as other workers in the store.

End Zero Hours Contracts – Sports Direct, Oxford St

Over 85% of the 20,000 part-time staff at Sports Direct branches across the country were on Zero-hour contracts which deprived them of sick pay, holiday pay and other employment rights. These contracts have no guaranteed weekly hours or income and have now become widely used – including by Buckingham Palace and 13 out of 32 London Boroughs.

Essentially they deny the whole concept of a contract as normally understood, agreements without substance which gravely disadvantage workers. They provide no guaranteed weekly hours or income and are used to cut wages and avoid holiday pay and pensions. Despite no guarantee of any income, they oblige the workers to be available for work at the employer’s whim, making it impossible for them to take on other work.

Zero hours contracts are also illegal if they do not give workers the statutory minimum requirements for paid holidays, wages, sick pay, maternity pay etc, but these again are difficult to enforce. There are various types of zero hours contracts but all are essentially designed to exploit workers.

The protest started with around 50 people making a lot of noise on the pavement outside the shop and handing out leaflets to the many shoppers passing by. Many of those who took the leaflets expressed surprise that such contracts were legal – and a change in law in 2015 made it illegal for contracts to deny employees the possibility of working for another employer – though there is no effective mechanism to stop employers penalising workers who turn down shifts offered because they have another job at that time.

After around 50 minutes the protesters surged into the small street-level area of the store, intending to go down the escalator leading to the main store area. Security staff blocked their path and told them to stop, and they did. One security man tried to push a protester who complained he was being assualted but otherwise the situation remained calm, with people blocking the way to the escalators in protest being watched by police and security.

A police officer came to talk with one of the leading protesters, who made it clear they were taking care to cause no damage and would shortly leave after making their point. The officer retired and after a few minutes people left the store to continue the protest on the pavement for a few minutes before calling an end.

More at End Zero Hours Contracts – Sports Direct.


Cleaners in John Lewis Westfield – Westfield Centre, Stratford

I walked from Oxford Street to take the Central Line to Stratford where I met a group of members of the IWGB outside Stratford Station on their way to protest inside John Lewis. They have been conducting a long term campaign to get the cleaners in John Lewis stores to be treated like others who work on the shop floor.

John Lewis is very proud of the fact that its workers are ‘partners’, with higher pay and better benefits than other shop workers, getting a share in the company’s profits – in 2013 this was a bonus equivalent to nine weeks pay. But the staff who keep the store clean get low pay, lousy conditions of service and are generally treated like dirt by the contract company that employs them.

The cleaners want to be directly employed by John Lewis and so get a share in the profits and the better conditions. They were then getting £6.72 per hour, considerably less than the London Living Wage of £8.55 an hour set by the GLA and backed by the London Mayor, and only statutory sick pay, holidays and pensions from the contracting company which employed them.

Their claims are supported by many of the ‘partners’ they work alongside, and by many John Lewis customers. But the ‘partners’ are afraid to speak out; one of them, Ralph Ashley who worked at Stratford did so and urged his fellow workers to join the IWGB, and was targeted and sacked after he gave an interview to the Guardian. As well as their own demands, the protesters also demanded he get justice and be re-employed.

The IWGB members and supporters kept quiet as they moved through Stratford Westfield and made their way to to the third floor restaurant in the large John Lewis store where they got out banners, whistles, plastic trumpets and megaphones before moving out into the centre of the shop for a noisy protest.

Their noisy protest as they marched around the different levels of the store to make their way to the escalators handing out leaflets attracted a great deal of attention and they stopped occasionally to explain the protest and many stopped to watch and listen.

Eventually they reached the first floor ‘street’ level, holding a slightly longer protest there before moving outside. Here a small group of Westfield Security tried to stop the protest and to prevent me taking pictures both with little success. Eventually we left the enclosed street and went outside and around the side of the store.

As the protesters were packing up the police arrived and having been assured that this was a peaceful protest and that the protesters were about to leave took no further action.

Much more at Cleaners in John Lewis Westfield.


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Genocide, Football, Bikes, TTIP, Climate Change and NHS

Monday, April 18th, 2022

Genocide, Football, Bikes, TTIP, Climate Change and NHS – another varied day of events around London on Saturday 19th April 2015.


Centenary of Armenian Genocide, Piccadilly

Genocide, Football, Bikes, TTIP, Climate Change and NHS

Armenians met to march through London on the 100th anniversary of start of the killing of 1.5m Armenians by Turkey between 1915 and 1923. Turkey still refuse to accept the mass killings as genocide and the UK has not recognised the Armenian genocide.

Genocide is defined as deliberate killing of a large number of people from a particular nation or ethnic group with the aim of destroying that nation or group, and it seems beyond doubt that this was the Turkish aim. I left just before th march began, going to lay flowers at the Cenotaph and then hold a service on the steps of steps of St Paul’s Cathedral.

Centenary of Armenian Genocide


Football Action Network Manifesto, Westminster

Genocide, Football, Bikes, TTIP, Climate Change and NHS

Football fans in the Football Action Network took copies of its manifesto to the Labour, Tory and Lib-Dem offices in Westminster. Its demands include a Football Reform Bill, a living wage for all staff, fair ticket prices, safe standing, and reforms to clubs & FA. I met and photographed them on the steps of the Lib-Dem offices in Great George St.

Football Action Network Manifesto


Tweed Cycle Ride, Westminster

Genocide, Football, Bikes, TTIP, Climate Change and NHS

The Tweed Cycle Ride came past as I photographed the football fans and I ran down the road next to them into Parliament Square. This vintage-themed “jaunty bike ride around London in our sartorial best” stops for tea and a picnic and ends with “a bit of a jolly knees-up.” It’s a charity event, raising money for the London Cycling Campaign.

Tweed Cycle Ride


Stop TTIP rally, Shepherds Bush Green

A tube journey took me out to Shepherds Bush Green in West London for a Day of Dissent rally against the TTIP treaty being secretly negotiated by governments and corporations poses and the threat this trade treaty poses to democracy and all public services.

After a number of powerful speeches the protesters split into participatory discussion groups to discus the risks and plan further action.

Stop TTIP rally


KFC protest over TTIP – Shepherds Bush Green

TTIP will force countries to accept food from the US which uses practices considered unsafe in other countries – including chlorine-washed chickens. This is needed in the US as chickens are kept in cages with very poor standards of hygiene that would not be permitted here, and drastic treatment of the carcases is essential. A row of protester stood in front of KFC and wearing white coats and yellow rubber gloves dipped rubber chickens into buckets and passed them along the processing line.


BP die-in against Climate Change, Shepherds Bush Green

Another group of protesters marched across the the BP garage on the other side os Shepherd Bush Green, where they staged a ‘die-in’ over TTIP, which would force countries to use dirty fuels including coal, tar oil and arctic oil and seriously delay cutting carbon emissions and the move to renewable energy. After several speeches, the protesters got up and walked back across the road to the grassed area of the green.

BP die-in against Climate Change


Westfield ‘Save our NHS’ protest, Westfield, Shepherds Bush

Finally a group of protester marched into London’s Westfield centre to point out the danger that TTIP poses to our NHS, allowing corporations to force the privatisation of all public services. Police and security stood back and watched as they gave out leaflets and put on a short street theatre performance.

Like many shopping centres, Westfield hava a ‘no photography’ policy, and some of those taking pictures and recording videos were asked to stop. I don’t think I was, but would have claimed a clear public interest in recording the event and kept on photographing.

The protesters were considering further protest in the area, but I decided I had been on my feet to long and caught the tube to take me towards home.

Westfield ‘Save our NHS’ protest


More on My London Diary on all the day’s protests:
Westfield ‘Save our NHS’ protest
BP die-in against Climate Change
KFC protest over TTIP
Stop TTIP rally
Tweed Cycle Ride
Football Action Network Manifesto
Centenary of Armenian Genocide


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


Thunderbird, Olympic Park & Transphobia at the Mail

Tuesday, October 19th, 2021

On Friday 19th October 2018 ‘Commander Neil Godwin Tracy’ of International Rescue came from Tracy Island carrying his ship Thunderbird 2 to the Dept for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) in London to offer his organisation’s assistance to produce policies which which recognise the desperate need to cut carbon emissions to avoid disastrous global warming and climate change by banning all fracking.

Campaigners say BEIS has spent more time on changing its name than developing sensible policies, and the ministry refused his generous offer of health, and security removed the International Rescue poster he tried to past to the front wall. Police requested he remove a second poster with the message ‘Fracking Awful Business’.

I had another event to cover later in the day and took the opportunity of the several hours between the two to pay a visit to the Olympic Park in Stratford, walking from the station through Stratford Westfield, a vast shopping centre I described as a 21st century version of Hell to do so.

I came out at the back of John Lewis and walked along the road towards the park, over the railway which takes Eurostar speeding through Stratford International station. There are more local trains that stop but I’ve yet to feel a need to go to either Ebbsfleet or Ashford (Kent) a place that has always seemed to me only to exist to confuse those who really want to go to Ashford, Middlesex, now called by the railway Ashford (Surrey).

The part of the park called the Waterglades was actually looking rather good, with the trees beginning to change colour, and I took rather a lot of pictures.

The lake was looking a very bright green. Soon I found I was at a dead end and needed to retrace my steps to cross the River Lea and make my way towards my destination through some of the more arid and desolate areas of the park.

There is a useful bridge now across the Lea Navigation to Hackney Wick where I had time to wander round and photograph some of the graffiti as I made my way to Fish Island and then on over the East Cross Route to catch a bus on Old Ford Road to Bethnal Green tube station.

Sister Not Cister UK had organised a protest outside the Daily Mail building in Kensington after articles demonising trans people, particularly trans women, in The Metro which they publish, and their printing an advertisement campaign for the hate group, “Fair Play for Women”.

The protesters, including many trans people, say that these attacks on the trans community will hurt the most marginalised – trans women, working class trans people and trans people of colour – who are also the most likely to be in need of the services that such hateful campaigners seek to deny them. More were arriving to join the protest when I decided I needed to leave for home.

Mail group end your transphobic hate
Olympic Park walk
BEIS refuse International Rescue help


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Low Pay, Lousy Conditions. 3rd Aug 2013

Tuesday, August 3rd, 2021

IWGB are harassed by Westfield security after their protest in John Lewis

The two events I covered on Saturday 3rd August 2013 both concerned the fight to get decent wages and conditions for low paid workers in London, something which has largely been left to the left wing and grass roots unions to fight for rather than the big trade unions or the Labour Party.

Outside Sports Direct in Oxford St

The two major ways that low paid workers are cruelly exploited in modern Britain are through zero-hours contracts and outsourcing, and these were at the heart of the two protests.

Security stop protesters from going down the escalator in Sports Direct

The first, at Sports Direct in Oxford St called on the company to abandon the use of zero-hour contracts which deprive all their 20,000 part-time workforce (over 85% of staff) sick pay, holiday pay and other employment rights.

The protest continues inside Sports Direct

Zero hours contracts, as I explained on My London Diary “are a peculiar legal casuistry that in essence denies the whole concept of a contract as normally understood, agreements without substance which gravely disadvantage workers … Although they give no guarantee of any income, they oblige the workers to be available for work at the employer’s whim, making it impossible for them to take on other work.”

IWGB get out flags, placards and banners on the top floor of John Lewis

All the advantages are for the employer who has a contract which imposes great constraints on workers while denying them the employment rights which are a part of normal employment and leaving them open to the whims of managers as to whether they work or not. A limited reform in 2015 prohibited terms in them which prevented people working for other employers, but if that leads to them being unable to work when the employer demands them to, they may still find their hours very much reduced in future or their contracts terminated.

And begin their protest in John Lewis in Stratford Westfield

The protest was a noisy one and after around 50 minutes handing out leaflets and speaking to shoppers on the street outside, they surged into the small street level area of the shop, where they made no attempt to push post security men who stopped them at the entry to the escalator leading down to the main store. They continued the protest inside the store being careful not to cause any damage. After around five minutes one of the police officers who were watching came to talk to one of the leading protesters and was told they would leave shortly, and after a few more minutes they did, ending the protest on the pavement a few minutes later.

They take the escalator to continue the protest on the floor below

I made my way to Stratford to join the IWGB union who were making a surprise visit to protest inside the John Lewis store in Stratford Westfield. The cleaners there are outsourced to sub-contractor ICM of the Compass Group, who had recently announced pre-tax profits for the year of £575 million. They pay the cleaners £6.72 per hour, considerably less than the London Living Wage of £8.55 an hour set by the GLA and backed by the London Mayor.

Everyone in John Lewis could hear the protest and stopped to look and listen

Outsourcing enables John Lewis to distance itself from the low pay and poor conditions of service of these workers who share the workplace with the much-lauded John Lewis ‘partners’, who as well as higher pay and better benefits, also get a share in the company’s profits, enabling John Lewis to claim it is a ‘different sort of company’ with a strong ethical basis, but still leave its cleaners – a vital part of its workforce – on poverty wages.

I met the cleaners outside Westfield and walked with them through the shopping centre to John Lewis at its far end, trying with them to look inconspicuous. In the store we went up to the cafe area on the top floor where they got out banners, placards and a large megaphone from their bags and then proceeded to walk around in a noisy protest.

They then took the escalator to the floor below and walked around that making the case for a fair deal for the cleaners to management and customers. Among those protesting (centre, above) was a man who had been a ‘partner’ in the Westfield store and was dismissed after he gave an interview to The Guardian supporting the cleaners’ case for equal treatment, and he was greeted by many of his former colleagues on the shop floor.

I get told I can’t take photographs

After protesting on each floor of the store, there were a numbber of final speeches, including one by the dismissed ‘partner’, on the ground floor before the group left, going out into the Westfield Centre in front of John Lewis. Here they were met by the centre manager and security staff who tried to stop the protest, with some pushing them (and me) around. Here I was told I was not allowed to take pictures, but took little notice. Very slowly we all made our way out of the centre by the nearest exit, still followed by Westfield security, and were met by two police officers who were told the protest was finishing.

Many more pictures at:

Cleaners in John Lewis Westfield
End Zero Hours Contracts – Sports Direct


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.


Armenian Genocide, TTIP, Football and Cyclists in Tweed

Sunday, April 18th, 2021

On Saturday 18th April 2015, Armenians marked the 100th anniversary of the start of the Armenian Genocide in Turkey in which 1.5 million were killed between 1915 and 1923. Turkey still refuse to accept the mass killings as genocide and the UK has not recognised the killing of this huge number of Armenians as genocide. The term was first published in 1943 by Polish lawyer Raphael Lemkin in his book ‘Axis Rule in Occupied Europe‘. After he had read about the killing of Armenians in Turkey and found that there was no law under which Talat Pasha, the grand vizier of the Ottoman Empire could be charged he invented and defined the term ‘genocide.

I left shortly before their march began to catch up with the Football Action Network who were taking copies of their manifesto to the Labour, Tory and Lib-Dem offices in Westminster. They were moving fast and there was no sign of them at Labour HQ; I ran on to the Tory HQ to find they had left, and finally caught up with them at the Lib Demo offices near Parliament Square. There I found supporters with scarves from Bolton, Luton Town and Dulwich Hamlet from Football Beyond Borders holding a couple of banners and passports with their demands, including a Football Reform Bill, a living wage for all staff, fair ticket prices, safe standing, and reforms to clubs & the Football Association.

The next even came to me, as a group of cyclists on the Tweed Cycle Ride stopped at the traffic lights on the road opposite, and I ran to meet them, then ran along with them through Parliament Square when the lights changed to green. he Tweed Run raises money for the London Cycling Campaign and describes itself as “a jaunty bike ride around London in our sartorial best“. The vintage-themed ride stops for tea and a picnic and ends with “a bit of a jolly knees-up.” Not really my kind of thing.

I caught the tube to Shepherds Bush and a rally on the Green against TTIP, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership being secretly negotiated by governments and corporations which poses a threat to democracy and all public services. The huge public outcry across the EU against this and in particular the Investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) already incorporated in some other treaties which allows companies to sue countries for ‘discriminatory practices’ including efforts to combat global heating is possibly why these talks were eventually abandoned in 2016, though our EU referendum may also have helped. After speeches the rally split into groups for discussion.

After the rally, white-coated War on Want campaigners moved across the road to a branch of Kentucky Fried Chicken for a performance with buckets and rubber chickens protesting against TTIP which would force us to admit US agricultural products produced by practices considered unsafe here – such as chlorine-dipped chickens, hormone stuffed beef etc. The need for these methods is driven by US intensive farming methods which have lower standards for safety and animal welfare than are acceptable here – and although TTIP ended without a treaty, our post-Brexit trade agreement with the US seems almost certain to include similar hazards.

Next I moved with protesters to the BP garage on the opposite side of Shepherds Bush Green, where activists staged a die-in as TTIP would force countries to use dirty fuels including coal, tar oil and arctic oil and seriously delay cutting carbon emissions and the move to renewable energy.

Finally, a group of protesters walked into the Westfield centre to stage a street theatre performance outside Virgin Media to illustrate the danger that TTIP poses to our NHS, allowing corporations to force the privatisation of all public services. Like other large shopping centres Westfield is a private place where protests and photography are not permitted, but police and security stood back and watched the event, and though security attempted to stop some videographers I kept a lower profile and was not approached.

Virgin Media is actually no longer a part of the Virgin empire, though it still pays Branson to use the name. Virgin Care now runs a large part of the NHS which is rapidly being privatised by the Conservative government. According to The Observer, because of a complex structure of holding companies with links to other parts of the Virgin empire with its roots in the British Virgin Islands, the company is “unlikely to pay any tax in the UK in the foreseeable future.”

Westfield ‘Save our NHS’ protest
BP die-in against Climate Change
KFC protest over TTIP
Stop TTIP rally
Tweed Cycle Ride
Football Action Network Manifesto
Centenary of Armenian Genocide