Friday, 23 December 2011

2011 - a year of protest in pictures including quite a few taken in Barnet!

Taking my cue from fellow Barnet bloggers – who have been an inspiration all year – here is my words and pictures review of Barnet 2011. What a year it’s been!

JANUARY – the Barnet march against cuts and privatisation marched slowly from Finchley Central tube station to the Arts Depot. The picture reminds me of the very diverse opposition to Barnet Conservative council’s plans that is there to be rallied. It also reminds me of the fun I have had taking pictures this year!

FEBRUARY – the struggles for democracy in the Middle East were inspiring to anyone with a heart. Although the future still looks rocky throughout the region, the courage and audacity of people in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Syria reminds us how dearly people prize freedom and how dearly they pay to win it. The picture is of a joyous demonstration in Trafalgar Square by Egyptians when Mubarak left power.

MARCH – the TUC at last, to use a phrase common among leftists, got off its knees and went so far as to organise a “March for the alternative” in London. Barnet trade unionists and residents were among half a million people who wended their way to Hyde Park where the speakers were quickly over and away. Ed Miliband rushed through the part of his speech, which said, “some cuts are necessary”. Most media attention was on the sideshow on Piccadilly – how protests are policed will be a recurring theme of the year.

APRIL – the Pinkham Way Alliance lobbied Barnet council against the proposed siting of a huge waste processing plant in their midst. The MetPro scandal, demonstrating the poor control Barnet council has over its procurement and contract monitoring, was surfacing at the same time so “Trust” was a big issue.

MAY – a weekday evening, central London demonstration against Andrew Lansley’s Health and Social Care Bill was one among many manifestations of anxiety about the government’s plans to privatise the NHS.

JUNE – among the Conservative and Lib Dem government’s many attacks on working people, their plans to make public sector workers work longer, pay more and get less in pensions began to provoke anger among trade unionists. NUT, PCS, UCU and some smaller unions all struck on 30 June. Here is Barnet NUT on the central London march that day.

JULY – the anti-cuts and privatisation campaign Barnet Alliance for Public Services took a small protest to Westminster to the HQ of Capita, one of the big outsourcing companies bidding to run Barnet council services – for a small consideration of £275 million (that’s one of the "One Barnet Programme" contracts – there are more). While there has been a lot of protest about big business evading tax, there has not been enough public scrutiny or dissent over the handing over of big sackfuls of our cash to the MNCs to run our public services.

AUGUST – hundreds of Barnet council employees organised by their union Barnet Unison have taken industrial action this year, worried about the terms under which they will go into private sector employment if the council’s One Barnet privatisation plan goes ahead. Here workers in Revenues and Benefits picket North London Business Park on 6 August against an attempt to break their work-to-rule.

SEPTEMBER – dubbed “Barnet Independence Day”, 13 September saw a big strike by Barnet council workers being “bundled up” for transfer to the private sector. The picture is from a rally in front of Hendon Town Hall.

OCTOBER – central government has given local authorities less money this year so that rich bankers and corporations do not need to tighten their belts like the rest of us. Barnet council along with others has resorted to desperate measures to plug the gaps in its finances. In addition to making cuts, “Revenue Income Optimisation” involves such things as increases in parking charges, which are proving disastrous to local business, and the commercialisation of public spaces through charging funfairs a fee to use them.

NOVEMBERstudent protests against cuts, higher tuition fees and now the Higher Education White Paper resumed in the new academic year. A march on 9 November was effectively a moving kettle, as the police had tightened up considerably their control of protests. The young woman in the picture is looking at a companion “kettle” of electricians who have been striking and protesting to defend their pay bargaining system.

DECEMBER – the picture is from 30 November, the day of the big pensions strike, which saw perhaps two million public sector workers on strike. December has been a period when the government attempts to pounce on and stifle the dispute, which has so far united teachers, civil servants, local government workers and more.

***

My pictures from 2011 show the efforts of many throughout the year, which must be joined by the efforts of many more in the weeks and months ahead. To any faltering and wavering trade union leaders looking to settle the pensions dispute quickly and run, I say we’ve come too far to retreat now! To ordinary trade union members, I say hold your leaders to account and make sure they do what is best for you not them! And to anyone not yet in a union I say, isn’t it time you joined one?!

Here’s to the battles of 2012!

4 comments:

David Duff said...

Too, too, ghastly!

As one of Noel Coward's 'chums' remarked on being asked what it was like on the beach of Dunkirk, "My dear, the heat, the noise - the people!"

Vicki Morris aka Citizen Barnet said...

It must be the thought of the sherry I'm going to drink in the next few days but, you know what, happy Christmas!

baarnett said...

DD: It was actor Ernest Thesiger, recalling fighting on the Somme.

But it sounds like the reaction to a Barnet council meeting.

Mrs Angry said...

Be fair, baarnett, Duff is such an old codger he can probably remember Dunkirk from first hand experience: look, see that man swimming towards Blighty ... and I imagine that he may well have been a close friend of Noel's, being such a dilettante.

Citizen Barnet, have normal hostilities been put aside, for a xmas time truce?

Merry Xmas to the old boy then.

And to David Duff.