TimePiece – the movie

Earlier this year, Liberate Tate performed an amazing 24-hour action at Tate Modern, challenging BP sponsorship of the gallery, with a huge unauthorised artwork in the Turbine Hall and an overnight stay.

I was privileged to make a film of the event and create a soundtrack based on the amazing charcoal scrapes and long natural reverb of the space.

Sotheby’s noise protest – cleaners’ reinstatement campaign – Sat 15th Aug 2015

Up to 100 people attended the latest event on Saturday afternoon in a six-week campaign targeting London high-end auction house Sotheby’s, over their sacking of cleaners engaged in Union activities.

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After a short sit-down outside Sotheby’s, blocking New Bond Street for a few minutes, the protest took a couple of trips round the block, visiting the other entrance to the auction house. It was a peaceful, good-natured and loud affair, with drummers, sirens, whistles and megaphones creating a cacophony in the posh Mayfair streets.

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Letters were handed to local businesses explaining the nature and purpose of the protest and apologising for any inconvenience.

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United Voices of the World were supported by Class War, Disabled People Against the Cuts, PCS union, and Unite.

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The carnival atmosphere was contrasted by humourless policing. Sergeant Hamatt physically prevented one of the protesters from entering a local shop to hand over one of their letters, though seemed hard-pressed to offer any lawful reason, then hassled a photographer for taking a photo of him writing in his log book (citing spurious Data Protection grounds, when in fact it was probably him breaching data laws if he was waving around sensitive information in public near press photographers).

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A vanload of police reinforcements arrived, and engaged in some pushing, but the protesters just changed direction occasionally and kept up their spirits and resolve.

15th august 2015 protest by united voices at sotheby's auction house calling for reinstatement of cleaners sacked while fighting for sick pay

15th august 2015 protest by united voices at sotheby's auction house calling for reinstatement of cleaners sacked while fighting for sick pay

The campaign began on July 1st when 4 cleaners were ‘suspended’ by Sotheby’s after taking part in a protest calling for better conditions including sick pay for the precarious cleaning and portering staff. The campaign has had some success with a massive petition, and an Early Day Motion signed by 19 MPs in parliament, leading to the reinstatement of two of the workers.

So the fight continues to get the other two, Percy Yunganina and Barbara Rocha, back into work.

United Voices of the World is a new grassroots and volunteer-staffed union representing precarious workers in London’s service sectors, and it is growing rapidly. This seemed to have triggered the interest of the authorities, who of course prefer either non-unionised labour, or unions led by fat cats with whom they can do business.

So the United Voices protests at Sotheby’s, seemingly a small industrial spat, has attracted some interesting policing, with visits by senior observers from the National Domestic Extremist Unit and other intelligence officers. Perhaps they are concerned that sometimes from small acorns…

Organising from the grassroots up is a very potent catalyst for change. If you’re not aware of recent Spanish developments, I’d recommend a look at this excellent short docu from the esteemed Reel News crew.

For more info on future Sotheby’s actions, check out United Voices of the World facebook page.

Solidarity Protest Against National Gallery Privatisation – video – 17th July 2015

A loud and boisterous protest took place inside and outside the National Gallery on Friday 17th July 2015, supported by United Voices and DPAC among others.

The demo was in solidarity with PCS workers, who face privatisation, poorer terms and conditions, and suspensions for union activities, from one of the only museums that still refuses to pay the London Living Wage.

In the face of a petition signed by tens of thousands, and questions in Parliament, the museum remains so far intransigent, and the PSC Union is stepping up strike action while other groups carry out solidarity actions like this one.

For the full story and details of how to help the campaign, see ngnotforsale.wordpress.com/

Sothebys cleaners campaign

Thurs July 16th UPDATE

A similar sized crowd arrived on Thursday evening to protest outside Sotheby’s during a staff dinner. Because the New Bond Street entrance was closed, they walked round the block a couple of times,

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but police then pushed the peaceful protesters into a pen, opposite the closed New Bond Street doors, while dinner guests used the other entrance in St George Street.

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The crowd broke away from their pen and went walking again.

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Prevented from entering St George Street, the group went up Regent Street `

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and ended up at the BBC building, hoping for some publicity. Police didn’t follow, but remained at St George Street where they conferred with Sotheby’s staff.

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Four Sotheby’s cleaners were suspended last week, the day after holding a protest outside the Bond Street auction house over sick pay and wages.

Although Sotheby’s undertook to sign up as a Living Wage employer earlier this year, the multinational auction house (which sold £130 million worth of paintings on the night of that first protest), have said they will not be raising cleaners’ pay in line with the Living Wage in November. They also refuse to negotiate over introducing contractual sick pay, so anyone sick or injured faces having to carry on working in order to pay ever-spiralling London rents.

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Migrant workers in London’s service industries have formed a new independent grassroots trade union, United Voices of the World, and had won the partial but significant victory at Sotheby’s earlier in the year. But that victory has been undermined by management intransigence, and now by the unfair dismissal of four cleaners over the hotly contested claim that they intimidated guests and cost the company business at the protest on the 1st July.

So on Wednesday this week, the UVW called for support for a noise protest at Sotheby’s public auction (where works from the Earls of Carlisle collections, and Napoleon’s Pistols from the Roi de Rome were on offer).

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The protest was announced on Facebook and attracted support from various other groups including a small contingent from Class War armed with water pistols. At the height of the protest, there were up to a hundred protesters, sporting a loud array of drums, megaphones, whistles, and sirens.

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Soon after the event began, riot police forced the protesters away from the entrance and across the road. Riot vans were parked nose to tail to obscure the auction house from view, and obscure the protest from the auction house, but I think the Sotheby’s management thought the whole spectacle might look a little too oppressive for their wealthy clients, and the vans were repositioned to create a gap.

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The pavement 100 yards in each direction from the building became a “sterile area”, and in each direction, a team of three TSG officers forced ordinary members of the public to cross the road and negotiate their way through the protest, only allowing the hallowed upper classes to use the public pavement to access the auctioneers, accompanying them along the route before handing them over to the caring white-gloved hands of the Sotheby’s own private security men in their black suits.

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Meanwhile, the loud, colourful, and good-natured protest banged on through the evening, watched by police from the Domestic Extremist Unit and videoed by a FIT team as well as a specialist petapixel camera on an unmarked green van.

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That a peaceful trade union protest over wages, sick pay, and unfair dismissal should attract so much policing and be classed as potential extremism is a sad and sinister indictment of the times we live in.

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There’s a petition you might want to sign, and UVW have a facebook page if you’re interested.

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“Balls To the Budget” protest by Disabled People Against Cuts

DPAC (Disabled People Against Cuts) were joined by a wide range of grassroots groups to stage a hastily organised protest on the day of George Osborne’s first austerity budget since the Tory’s took power after the election this year.

Activists threw balls at Downing Street before going on an impromptu march. While a huge “Balls2TheBudget” banner was hung near St Thomas’ Hospital opposite Parliament, Westminster was brought to a standstill for several hours by a blockade of Westminster Bridge, and later, Parliament Square.

In the early afternoon, and as other Budget protesters began to arrive, police numbers built up and they moved in to clear the road, forcefully snatching the main banner, and arresting four people including one man in a wheelchair. They then deployed horses to keep people back off the road.

Bob Lambert spycop protest at London Metropolitan University

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According to Green MP Caroline Lucas, Dr Robert Lambert, Lecturer in Criminology at London Metropolitan University, is actually a serious criminal himself, having committed the criminal act of planting an incendiary device in a Debenham’s store in the 1980s, one of three arson attacks which he helped organise, causing millions of pounds worth of damage, and for which two other activists were jailed.

At that time, he was known as Bob Robinson, and was acting as an agent provocateur and spying on protest movements as a Special Branch officer in the SDS (Special Demonstration Squad).

Between 1983 and 88, he spied on peace and social justice campaign group, London Greenpeace. He also sexually exploited several female activists by entering into relationships with them, and even fathered a child with one.

After the incendiary incident he left his activist family without a word in an unimaginable breach of trust.

It was only years later that he was spotted giving a presentation at a police conference and the truth began to unravel.

Spycop whistleblower, Peter Francis, has added more evidence to the despicable tactics used by Lambert and others, and Lambert has been named in connection with police attempts to spy on and discredit the Stephen Lawrence campaign, and also to spy on Islington MP Jeremy Corbyn.

Today’s vigil outside the Met University in Holloway Road was supported by Baroness Jenny Jones who stated to the Islington Tribune that she felt “a man without a moral compass is not an appropriate person to be teaching”.

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Certainly, the women he effectively raped, think he should be held to account rather than employed by the university.

Todays’ protest was one of a series of monthly actions at the University which began last year.

For more info and contact details to write to the University and to Dr. Lambert himself, see https://islingtonagainstpolicespies.wordpress.com

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Reclaim the Power Day of Action – two new films

Monday was a busy day. After the Reclaim The Power camp near Didcot at the weekend, there were direct actions against fossil fuel industries across the UK.

My first film is of the blockade of the Institute of Directors, where the World Coal Association was holding a conference on ‘Carbon Capture Solutions’, or at least it would have been, had it not been disrupted by locks and superglued activists who for a couple of hours successfully managed to block all the public entrances to the building.

Next, to the London offices of PR giant, Edelman, for a scripted stunt involving the birth of a ‘fracked baby’.

Edelman are behind Lord Chris Smith’s “Task Force on Shale Gas”, funded by the industry, but supposedly offering independent reports on the safety and feasibility of fracking.

The stunt highlights a recent report that links fracking to an increased chance of birth defects. Last year, Greenpeace published leaked documents showing Edelman’s hand in dirty tricks to help push through the Trans-Canada tar sands oil pipeline. Its involvement in the supposedly independent Task Force is a similar tactic to try and push the Government proposal to frack up to two thirds of the UK.

(WARNING: film contains scenes some viewers may find disturbing)