Tag Archives: indyrikki

Nationwide TopShop protest

A month on from the previous London demo, matters have escalated. TopShop’s cleaning company, Brittania have now sacked one of the two suspended workers, Susana, a single mother with several years service to the company.

09 UVW TopShop 16th May © @indyrikki

She is determined to see justice, and the grassroots ‘United Voices of the World’ union have expanded the protest so that 17 shops around the UK were targeted by actions today.

Also more groups have come forward to support the fight, moved not only by the issues of living wage, harassment and bullying, but also by the fact that Philip Green’s tax arrangements see TopShop paying very little in the way of UK tax.

01 UVW TopShop 16th May © @indyrikki

08 UVW TopShop 16th May © @indyrikki

Today’s protest in London began at 5pm outside the flagship Oxford Street store, and was briefly visited by Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell who held a banner in support.

Like last month, the policing was intense, with two Inspectors on duty, Forward Intelligence Officers, the mysterious green van with what is thought to be a petapixel camera on a pole, plus other surveillance officers and dozens of uniformed police. All this was on top of some very large private security guards hired by TopShop.

03 UVW TopShop 16th May © @indyrikki

11 UVW TopShop 16th May © @indyrikki

The police were quite pushy-shovey, marking out arbritary lines for where people could and couldn’t stand. Even the Police Liaison Officers, supposed to be all smiley, got a bit shouty at times.

02 UVW TopShop 16th May © @indyrikki

05 UVW TopShop 16th May © @indyrikki

Despite the excessive policing, the protest remained good-natured and there were no arrests. A walk up Oxford Street took the roughly 150 activists to TopShop’s Marble Arch branch where the shutters came down and customers were huddled out of a rear door. Business was effectively suspended for around 30 minutes, and amongst the noise, some drumming, vuvulezas, and chants, one egg was thrown.

07 UVW TopShop 16th May © @indyrikki

By 7pm the march was back at the Oxford Circus branch, and after a few more speeches on the open mic, the protest was finished for the day.

12 UVW TopShop 16th May © @indyrikki

We heard that there had been a banner drop inside the store, and also that 600 hand-written notes had been left amongst clothes inside the store, telling readers about the bullying, the suspensions and sackings, the poor wages and Philip Green’s tax avoidance.

For more background info, read my previous post, and for future events in this rapidly growing campaign check the United Voices facebook page

06 UVW TopShop 16th May © @indyrikki

10 UVW TopShop 16th May © @indyrikki

Farewell party for BP sponsorship at Tate Modern

After 18 artistic interventions over six years, campaign group ‘Liberate Tate‘ held an unofficial party this afternoon in the Turbine Hall to celebrate the news that Tate Modern is finally free of its 26 year long arrangement with BP.

Campaign pressure on the criminal oil company is widely regarded as one of the main reasons they have given up their deal with the gallery, although news reports cited the “challenging business environment“.

Recent Freedom of Information requests indicate that the amount of money BP gives the gallery each year is smaller than one hour’s profit, so it seems more likely they have weighed up the substantial PR gains they get from such arrangements against the bad press they regularly receive as campaign groups stage their protests and that the protests are just too damaging to the company.

Activists smuggled a sound system into the hall this afternoon and danced, drank, and ate cake.

Liberate Tate © @indyrikki 2016 002

Children played under and around the black square (resurrected from a previous action).

Liberate Tate © @indyrikki 2016 001

Veiled performers delivered their artists’ statement.

Liberate Tate © @indyrikki 2016 003

Liberate Tate © @indyrikki 2016 007

Two activists somehow accessed a beam very high up above the crowd and dropped black confetti creating a massive spectacle for the visiting public.

Liberate Tate © @indyrikki 2016 004

Liberate Tate © @indyrikki 2016 005

Liberate Tate © @indyrikki 2016 008

 

After a couple of hours, most of the confetti was packed away in bags and activists bade a final farewell to the museum, while a police inspector tried to work out how the confetti stunt had been pulled.

Liberate Tate © @indyrikki 2016 009

Liberate Tate © @indyrikki 2016 010

Another campaign group, ‘BP or not BP‘, will continue their pressure on the British Museum where the new director, Hartwig Fischer, is currently deciding whether to renew BP’s sponsorship deal there.

See also ‘TimePiece‘, my short film of a 24-hour occupation at Tate Modern last year.

 

 

Protest at TopShop over London Living Wage

01 UVW TopShop ©@indyrikki

Yesterday afternoon saw the launch of a new campaign by the grassroots union, United Voices of the World, which represents key workers in London’s outsourced economy – the porters, cleaners, shop assistants, security guards and so on – jobs characterised by precarious contracts and low pay.

 The UVW union has no paid officials and runs on goodwill, solidarity and small subscriptions. It represents mainly Latin American migrant workers, but is open and welcoming to all. For such a shoestring enterprise it has an astonishingly successful track record in defending workers at numerous Employment Tribunal cases, winning its members tens of thousands of pounds in settlements and also gaining living wage agreements for hundreds of workers in just a few short years.

 Its biggest victory has been a historic agreement for sub-contracted staff (security and cleaners) at the world-renowned Sotheby’s auction house in Mayfair. After UVW’s series of boisterous and embarrassing protests during public auctions, an agreement has been reached committing Servest (the company contracted to provide services to Sotheby’s) to not only pay the London Living Wage, but also to offer Occupational Sick Pay, the first time outsourced private sector employees have been offered anything more than the far smaller Statutory Sick Pay. (my Sotheby’s reports and pics 1 2

 So, UVW have now turned their attention to London High Street retailers, beginning at TopShop with a 100-strong protest at their flagship Oxford Circus store yesterday afternoon. This will be the first living wage campaign targeted at a fashion retailer in the UK.

02 UVW TopShop ©@indyrikki

 With drums, horns, cowbells, a megaphone and loud chanting, the crowd drew much attention from passers-by and shoppers.

08 UVW TopShop ©@indyrikki

After some short speeches from Union organisers and TopShop cleaners, a good-natured attempt to enter the store was repelled by security staff, and then a line of police helped block the main entrance.

03 UVW TopShop ©@indyrikki

06 UVW TopShop ©@indyrikki

The drumming and chanting created a carnival atmosphere in the Spring-like sunshine, and at times the road was filled with interested onlookers. Volunteers handed out hundreds of leaflets highlighting the disparity between the massive profits reported by Philip Green’s Arcadia Group (registered under his wife’s name in a Monaco tax haven), and the poverty-inducing wages paid to staff (expected to rise in line with minimum wage to £7.20 per hour from April).

05 UVW TopShop ©@indyrikki

07 UVW TopShop ©@indyrikki

The campaign is pushing for a London Living Wage of £9.40 per hour (based on scientific methodology and the true cost of living). This is not to be confused with George Osborne’s promise of a ‘living wage’ by 2020, which is actually merely a rebranding of the minimum wage and is not related to the cost of living.

Many of the workers are actually sub-contracted and work for Brittania Services Group, but despite TopShop’s own Code of Conduct claiming to subscribe to the concept of the “living wage”, the retailer has not taken any action to promote this “concept” for its staff.

After a couple of hours, the protest went on a walkabout, briefly blocking Oxford Circus before visiting and briefly invading John Lewis.

09 UVW TopShop ©@indyrikki

Despite a campaign involving comedian/activist Mark Thomas a couple of years ago, this supposedly ethical store still sub-contracts its cleaners at rates impossible to live on in the capital.

The UVW is planning to target the Science Museum and the Daily Mail in a series of further actions this year.

They have launched this petition relating to TopShop.

 

 

 

 

 

Redlines solidarity protests in London

Two different activist groups staged protests in London today in solidarity with the so-called Redlines protests taking place in Paris at the end of the COP21 climate talks.

First were a group of around 25, calling themselves ‘Red Lines London’, who carried 10 giant inflatable cubes, similar to those used in Paris, to various sites across London.

They began with a short roadblock outside the Houses of Parliament, highlighting our Government’s increasing subsidies to fossil fuel companies while cutting support for renewable energy schemes and alternative energy research.

01 redlines london

Next, they crossed Westminster Bridge to pose outside the Shell HQ building.

02 redlines london

03 redlines london

04 redlines london

After a brief pause to top up the air pressure , the next target was the Turbine Hall of the Tate Modern gallery, which receives sponsorship money in a green-washing exercise from BP.

05 redlines london

06 redlines london

Moving further east, the group then blockaded the entrance to News International’s London HQ near London Bridge. Rupert Murdoch’s newspapers have been very supportive of air attacks on Syria, which is no surprise as he has oil interests along with Jacob Rothschild in the Syrian Golan Heights.

07 redlines london

08 redlines london

Crossing the River Thames they carried their red lines through the City of London financial centre (where they attracted inquiries from police).

09 redlines london

Their fifth and final destination was the office of PR firm Hill & Knowlton, which works for fracking lobbyists to promote the idea that extreme energy extraction techniques are safe and sustainable, despite scientists’ analysis that further carbon exploitation will cause runaway temperature warming.

10 redlines london

———-

Meanwhile, back at Westminster,  Campaign Against Climate Change were preparing their own Redlines solidarity action starting with some speeches outside Parliament, including from Sian Berry, the Green Party candidate for London Mayor.

11 Climate Campaign Redline

The action comprised unfurling a 300m red line across Westminster Bridge.

12 Climate Campaign Redline

Despite strong winds, they managed to hang on and span the whole bridge behind Parliament.

13 Climate Campaign Redline

Both UK actions were in solidarity with the thousands gathered in Paris in defiance of emergency powers to send out a message to COP21 delegates that there are red lines that must not be crossed.

24th Oct 2015, Occupy the Daily Mail – video report

On 24th October 2015, media and climate activists began a 48-hour vigil and protest outside the London HQ of the Daily Mail in Derry Street, Kensington.

Natalie Bennett, leader of the Green Party, joined one of the group, Donnachadh McCarthy, for a meeting with the Managing Director of the Daily Mail, Charles Garside, and their Environmental Correspondent.

During the meeting they presented evidence of misleading and unscientific headlines, which the newspaper staff undertook to respond to.

Later there was a candlelit silent vigil to remember the people killed by climate change (which the UN currently estimates is nearly half a million each year).

Several activists continued to camp outside the building until Sunday.

Paul Mobbs – Arrest the Cabinet

It’s been awhile since a blog update, mainly because I’ve been busy making films.

I’ve been working with Real Media covering their Manchester pre-launch conference. Also doing some editing for Bez’s Reality Party. Some more stuff for the Talk Fracking campaign, and a series of gigs and actions with the anti-consumerist ‘preacher’, Reverend Billy, over with his 12-piece Stop Shopping Choir from the States.

So this is the first of a few posts pulling some of my favourites together, beginning back in March when ecological researcher and futurologist Paul Mobbs attempted to get the Cabinet arrested, and when Downing Street police refused to help, he tried to perform a citizen’s arrest, before eventually being arrested himself under a Road Management section of the Terrorism Act.

His ‘Frackademics‘ research presents a compelling case against members of the Cabinet of misconduct in public office over their support for fracking in the UK. Before his arrest, he handed a dossier to police and they later gave him an official crime number relating to his evidence against David Cameron et al, so in theory, the Police claim they are investigating his allegations.

He will be representing himself in his own court case which is currently scheduled for August.

The film was a collab with Gathering Place Films.

Occupy Murdoch – Day One

With more than fifteen hundred people signed up to the Facebook page, hopes were high for a good turn-out this morning. Truth be told, the dozen or so protesters were completely outnumbered by police, security and journalists, as they gathered at London Bridge this morning.

03 occupy rupert murdoch

01 occupy rupert murdoch

While the half dozen blue-tabarded ‘Police Liaison Officers’ mingled with the activists trying to gain intel as they do, a Forward Intelligence Team was sightseeing from a distance, pointing their video camera at the gathered journalists, having filmed the Occupiers from every angle.

02 occupy rupert murdoch

There were also security staff (the men in black) from the Sun offices, and other unknown undercovers watching from a distance.

06 occupy rupert murdoch

04 occupy rupert murdoch

After a photo-call, the small group set off for the ‘mini-shard’ Sun HQ where again they posed for pics and organiser, Donnachadh McCarthy, gave a short speech, before delivering their ‘arrest warrant’ for Mr Murdoch.

05 occupy rupert murdoch

07 occupy rupert murdoch

08 occupy rupert murdoch

Opposite the modern Shard entrance to London Bridge station is a small area where works are in progress behind blue fencing. There’s not much through footfall here, and there are some benches to sit on, making an ideal spot for the week-long occupation.

09 occupy rupert murdoch

Soon, banners and posters were fixed on the fence, a symbolic tent and a children’s play pen were set down, and the first speaker, Occupy’s George Barda turned up.

10 occupy rupert murdoch

The full week’s activities are up on the web page, along with ideas for solidarity actions for those that want to support but can’t make it to London Bridge.

The organisers believe a civil injunction will be fast-tracked to try to move them off the land, and a call-out for peaceful resistance will no doubt go out on their twitter feed when that happens.

The biggest event of the week will most likely be on Saturday, but in the meantime there are some fab speakers and some excellent cabaret lined up, along with daily assemblies.