Union members staged a protest in Newcastle today against low pay on construction sites.
The demonstration was organised by UCATT and is part of a national campaign demanding a living wage of £7.85 an hour – £9.15 in London – for its members in the building industry.
In Newcastle it targeted the employment agency Hayes Specialist Recruitment Ltd in Mosley Street which, it says, supplies construction workers at rates as low as £7.28 an hour.
Denis Doody, Regional Secretary for UCATT, said:
“The blight of low pay in the construction industry is despicable. Companies are making huge profits, while workers are forced to work long hours in highly physically demanding roles, in all weathers, for peanuts.
“Companies expect workers to work long hours and then at the end of a gruelling week they don’t pay them enough to live on. Until construction companies start ensuring a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work we will keep exposing their greed.”
UCATT says it is concerned that on some adverts Hays Recruitment insists that candidates for jobs must supply their own Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
The union says this is contrary to the law which clearly states that this should be supplied by the employer, who has a duty to ensure it is adequate for the job, properly fitting and the worker has been properly trained.
Mr Doody added: “Agencies need to be brought to book on their legal requirements regarding safety in the construction industry. Thousands of workers are injured every year and a major factor is companies that ignore and bend safety rules.”
A Hays spokesperson commented:
“We take our responsibility to meet our requirements with regards to the pay and health and safety of our workers very seriously.
“Pay rates are determined by employers in line with the industry, legislation and the local market.
“We work closely with our clients and have strict processes in place to ensure that we comply with the necessary legislations.
“We are unable to comment further on specific vacancies.”
Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 03 Jun 2015
Nine people were arrested at a neo-Nazi demonstration held in the North-East over the weekend.
National Action held its White Man March on the Quayside in Newcastle on Saturday.
The far-right white supremacist group has an openly racist agenda and supports the National Socialism movement founded in Germany in 1920 by Adolf Hitler.
Footage posted online shows members, many covering their faces, burning flags, giving Nazi salutes and chanting ‘Hitler was right’.
Northumbria Police said the demonstration attracted about 100 le with around 70 people on a counter demonstration nearby.
The demonstrations started at around 2pm and lasted for two hours.
Nine people were arrested for public order offences including inciting racial hatred.
Assistant Chief Constable Winton Keenen said:
“The majority of people attending this event did so peacefully. However, there were a number whose behaviour was unacceptable resulting in nine people being arrested.
“We simply will not tolerate people engaging in behaviour that could negatively impact on our communities and will take positive action against those who do.
“I’d like to thank the local community and businesses for their cooperation during the events.”
Source – Northern Echo, 23 Mar 2015
From North East Anti-Fascists
National Action and British Voice came out with a heavy internet fuelled white power violence vibe, all of the usual ludicrous master race bullshit. This was their set piece event, their burst for hegemony on the far right and they were humiliated (they know it and we know it).
Their rag taggle assembly of misfits was only able to operate through the protection of the police, while NEAF/antifa were mobile, autonomous and democratically organised.
We had the streets, the White Man March did not happen along its designated route, they did not pass! No Pasaran!
No arrests for us, nine for them and many more stories from a great day will doubtlessly emerge. The fundamentals are that class struggle politics in the North East is slowly reasserting itself. We have some beautiful, talented and brave working class people around us and an adventurous, yet serious approach.
Unions across the region are joining forces in protest against the controversial anti-Islamic demonstration set to take place in Newcastle next week.
German right wing group Pediga plans to hold a demonstration on Saturday in the city’s Bigg Market.
But opposition Newcastle Unites plans a counter march beginning at Gallowgate and heading to Newgate Street.
Comedian and activist Russell Brand and Respect MP George Galloway have pledged their support to the anti-facist group.
Dozens of groups from across the region are backing Newcastle Unites, and organisers are now asking all unions across the country to strengthen their cause.
Newcastle councillor Dipu Ahad said:
“I urge all the unions in the country, to unite and support Newcastle Unites Against Pegida.
“I urge you all, who want to see a better future for our children, where we can coexist in peace, no matter what our race or religion. Let us start today, and not tomorrow as each and everyone of us has got a responsibility as humans.
“Our unity is our strength, and together we can eradicate all types of hate, no matter what.
“Too many times we focus on what divides us, which diverts the real issues. We’ve got a responsibility to combat evil, so I urge you all to stand up and be counted.”
The councillor said many groups had come forward voluntarily to support Newcastle Unites.
Just days ago Pegida were told by Newcastle United fans: “We’re black and white”.
The demonstration is planned for the same day as Newcastle face Aston Villa at St James Park, and NUFC Fans United put out the defiant message on their website which reads:
“There is a fear that Newcastle United supporters who are of the Islamic faith or origin may be singled out for abuse by this group and we say that the authorities cannot allow any of our community, whatever their race, creed or religious belief to be treated in such a manner in our city on match day or any other day.
“As Supporters of Newcastle United we are asking what kind of message is such a rally sending to players such as Papiss Cissé, Mehdi Abeid, Cheik Tiote and Moussa Sissoko as well as to our wider Muslim community? Remember, we are black and white; we are UNITED.”
A heavier-than usual police presence is expected on the day of the two marches.
Newcastle Chief Supt Laura Young said:
“We have met with representatives from both of the organisations and have agreed on plans for their demonstrations.
“The organisers from both groups have assured us they do not want any trouble and their intention is to hold peaceful protests before moving on and we will act in a neutral capacity to facilitate this.
“People often ask why we can’t ban protests. Police forces do not have the power to ban a protest or the right to peaceful assembly. This is a fundamental democratic right and is laid down in the European Convention of Human Rights.
“On occasions we can insist on certain conditions being applied to ensure we preserve public safety, prevent crime, serious disorder and serious damage and protect the rights of others.
“Our priority is ensuring public safety and minimum disruption to the local community.”
Newcastle Unites against Pegida supporters so far are:
• The Durham General Branch of the GMB
• Northern Cultural Projects CIC
• The Durham Miners Association
• The County Durham Trades Council
• Northumberland County Unison
• The Newcastle Hindu Temple
• Islamic Diversity Centre(IDC)
• Spice FM
• Show Racism The Red Card
• Durham UAF
• County Durham Unites Against Racism
• Newcastle Council of Faiths
• North East People’s Assembly
• Newcastle Stop The War Coalition
• Northumberland County Unison
• UAF North East
• Sunderland Anti-Fascist Coalition
• West End Housing Co-operative in Newcastle
• Unite Against Fascism
• Stand up to UKIP
• Newcastle Council for Voluntary Service(NCVS)
• Jude Kirton Darling MEP
• Julie Ward MEP
• Lord Beecham
• Comedian and activist Russell Brand
• Journalist and activist Yvonne Ridley
• Dave Anderson MP
• Chi Onwurah MP
• Davy Hopper (General Secretary of Durham Miners Association)
• Palestine Solidarity Campaign Fife
• Sunderland Together
• NUFC Fans United
• PCS Northern
• Bakers Union
• Tyneside Irish Centre
• Unite The Union
• Gateshead Unison
• Unison Northern Region
• TUC Northern Regional
• Newcastle Central Constituency Labour Party
• North East Greens
• Tyneside SWP
Source – Sunday Sun, 22 Feb 2015
The co-founder and leader of anti-Islamisation party Liberty GB has accepted an invitation by Pegida UK to be guest speaker at their planned demonstration in Newcastle.
German anti-Islamic group Pediga will hold its demonstration on Saturday, February 28, at 11am in the Bigg Market and protesters will gather there for speeches.
Paul Weston is best known for being arrested last April on the steps of Winchester Guildhall for quoting Winston Churchill.
Churchill once said of Islam, “No stronger retrograde force exists in the world”, and for repeating these words Weston was thrown into a police cell.
His political arrest was covered by the world’s media.
> Was it ? I don’t recall it at all.
Styling himself “a revolutionary” rather than a conventional politician, Weston achieved online notoriety for a viral video entitled, “My Name Is Paul Weston and I Am a Racist”, in which he argued that the Left smears patriotic Brits as ‘racists’ in order to neutralise popular opposition to Britain’s destruction via uncontrolled immigration and Islamisation.
He has described government immigration policy as “criminal and systematic race replacement of the native English.”
> And this is revolutionary thinking ? Nothing new there, just the same old bollocks.
Recently, Weston has spoken at several EDL rallies, including one outside Downing Street at which he condemned David Cameron as a “quisling, coward and traitor” for his refusal to address the alledged Islamic threat.
Liberty GB describes itself on Facebook as “a patriotic, anti-Islamisation party promoting Christian civilisation, Western freedoms and British culture”.
> Oh, surely not Christianity – an imported middle eastern religion sharing roots with Islam. By their own standards, Liberty X – sorry, Liberty GB – are dangerously close to being classed as traitors by their own definition. But I don’t suppose they do irony.
The Party’s policies include:
– complete halt to immigration
– death sentence for terrorism
– prohibit Muslims from holding public office
– deport all Muslims considered to be a threat, along with their families
– segregate Muslim prisoners within the prison system to prevent conversion of non-Muslims to Islam
– ban mosque-building, remove minarets from existing mosques, outlaw the Islamic call to prayer
– ban ritual slaughter of animals and importation of ritually slaughtered meat
– close all madrassas and Muslim faith schools
– close Muslim prayer rooms and Islamic centres on university campuses
Asked for his view of George Galloway and Russell Brand, due to lead a counter-demonstration in Newcastle, Paul Weston called the former “a despicable traitor” and the latter “an idiot”.
The counter rally by Newcastle Unites will meet in Gallowgate at around 10.30am, before walking a short distance to Newgate Street where they will hold their demonstration.
Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 19 Feb 2015
A demonstration by the English Defence League in Middlesbrough and a counter demonstration have passed off (more or less) peacefully, say police.
Over three hundred police officers were involved in the operation, which has been planned for a number of months.
Around 150-200 counter demonstrators gathered, many dressed in red – the home colours of Middlesbrough FC and the workers movement – as a sign of solidarity.
A strong police presence was active around Ayresome Gardens, but counter demo organiser, Lawrie Coombs, said: “Every time the fascists come, we’ll stand together. But we don’t anticipate any trouble.”
Councillor Len Junier was a prominent figure, leading the march onto Linthorpe Road Middlesbrough.
As the crowds gathered he said: “We are lucky in Middlesbrough, we don’t have problems with racism.
“We don’t want the EDL splitting our community. We want to celebrate the diversity in our area. But we don’t want to get in anyone’s face.”
Addressing the crowd before setting off, a Counter demo spokesman told demonstrators to avoid the areas that the EDL were reported to be.
Then the counter demo set off along Linthorpe Road to the sound of drums and whistles.
Len Junier led the march while chanting, “Whose streets?” to which the procession replied, “Our streets!“
Passers-by looked on as the march made its way up towards House of Fraser where a series of anti-racist speeches were made.
The words, “We are British, we’re not going anywhere,” were met with applause from the protesters as the EDL gathered just down the Corporation Road.
Around 350 people took part in the EDL demonstration which set off from Corporation Road at around 2pm.
As the crowd set off, turning the corner from Corporation Road onto Albert Road, it wasn’t long before the singing was broken by the sound of a loud bang.
Police were forced to temporarily halt the march after the bang, from what appeared to have been a firework exploding, shocked many bystanders.
Seconds later, a second firework and a glass bottle were thrown from among the EDL crowd.
As it shattered on the footpath outside Middlesbrough Town Hall, at least one woman was injured and was sat at the road side being treated by an EDL first aider – her foot was bleeding.
Before the march, demonstrators had been warned that banners, flags and placards that might incite disorder would be banned along with anything that could be used to cause injury or damage.
Even so, some of the signs held by EDL supporters were openly hostile in their criticism of Islam.
One read: “Islam causes more deaths a day than cancer does.”
Further fireworks exploded as the procession turned onto Borough road.
As the procession passed some Asian men who were standing at the roadside, certain members of the EDL contingent began chanting “Scum, scum scum.”
Then, as the march turned onto Melrose Street, glass bottles and another firework were thrown in the direction of another group of Asian men, one of whom had a child on his shoulders.
Following this police moved the bystanders away from the march and the missiles which were still being thrown.
Mr Hussein, 37, of Southfield Road, was shocked and baffled by the march.
He said: “I’ve lived here all my life, we live a humble life.
“The people in Middlesbrough have never had these problems before and we don’t want them here now.”
Finally, the EDL supporters gathered outside Teesside Crown Court for speaches.
One speaker said: “When will the government admit that there’s an epidemic of child grooming happening right now.
“Street justice, street justice, is far worse than anything the government can do.”
Still on the issue of child grooming, a second speaker said: “Don’t say this is not a race issue.
“The peaceful majority are irrelevant.”
A total of two men were arrested – one on suspicion of possession of an offensive weapon and one on suspicion for assaulting a police officer.
Acting assistant chief constable Ciaron Irvine said: “Clearly there has been some disruption in Middlesbrough town centre to allow these demonstrations to take place, and we are grateful to local residents and businesses for their co-operation.
“We have been working with our local communities and partner agencies including Middlesbrough Council for a number of weeks now to ensure people have been aware of the events and have had the opportunity to contact us if they have had specific concerns.”
Police and crime commissioner Barry Coppinger said: “I attended one of the briefings to police officers this morning and have been out around the town centre observing activities. The whole operation has been well planned and in consultation with our local communities and businesses.
“Clearly the priority for the police today has been to facilitate each demonstration while ensuring the safety of the public and I am pleased that the day has passed off peacefully.”
Source – Middlesbrough Evening Gazette, 28 June 2014
Hundreds of people from the North East joined 50,000 protesters in London’s Parliament Square to campaign against austerity measures.
Two coaches full of determined protesters assembled at Newcastle’s Central station and South Shields’ Town Hall on Saturday, before they made the six hour journey down to the capital.
> There was also a coach from Sunderland, according to the Sunderland Echo.
The protesters were armed with colourful banners and placards designed by local artist group, Artists for Change, their message was conveyed in just a few words; “No Cuts, No More Austerity; Demand the Alternative.”
Upon arrival, they marched passed the BBC headquarters in Portland Place where they accused the broadcasters of ignoring the plight of thousands of impoverished Britons affected by the cuts.
> The BC evidently didn’t notice, as they ignored the protest until the next day…
They then marched to Parliament Square where the crowds were addressed by union workers, politicians and celebrities such as Russell Brand and journalist Owen Jones.
Mum-of-four Ruth Stevenson, 35, from Wallsend, attended the demonstration after the cuts put her family under extreme financial strain. She said: “It was really well organised and there were loads of families and children, people in wheelchairs, and even choirs at the sides of the marches.
“There was a fantastic feeling of all people united. There were NHS staff, firefighters, monks and all sorts of people there. The amount of bus loads of people who arrived was amazing.”
The National secretary of the People’s Assembly, Sam Fairbairn, talked to the masses about the negative impact of the coalition’s cuts on communities and workers.
He said: “Make no mistake, these cuts are killing people and destroying cherished public services which have served generations.”
The People’s Assembly Against Austerity was launched one year ago through an open letter co-signed by the late Tony Benn, along with a variety of union leaders, MPs and writers.
Ruth was moved to attend the demonstration when she realised she would have to forgo paying two-months worth of bills to ensure she has enough money to buy her children school uniforms.
She said: “I went because the cut-backs have really affected my family. This is the first year ever I am going to have to default on two months worth of bills to pay for school uniforms.
“School uniforms are really expensive and this year it is going to be too much. Although the cost of living has increased, wages have stayed the same. So it is really hard on families.”
She also has concerns for the future education of her four children.
“At the moment I am worried about my daughter Victoria who is really intelligent. I want her to go to university but I just don’t know how I am going to support her financially.
“And if I can’t support Victoria then I don’t know how I will manage with the rest of them,” she added.
Ruth believes the British people have fought hard for institutions such as the NHS, trade unions and the welfare system only to have them taken back.
“We have spent the last 50 years making sure that these institutions are there to protect ordinary people but now it is like the government is slowly removing the support network.”
Tony Dowling, Chair of the North East’s People’s Assembly, who helped to organise the North East protesters agrees that it is the hard-working and vulnerable who have been affected by the cutbacks the most.
He said: “The people who are being affected are the students who no longer have education maintenance allowance, the parents of children who have had their disability allowance cut or the NHS patients who face having to pay for their treatment in future.”
Tony helped to put together the North East’s cohort of the People’s Assembly in September 2013 at Northern Stage Theatre in Newcastle upon Tyne, and since then, the fast growing group have been busy organising workshops, public meetings, and petitions.
The 57-year-old, who is a specialist behaviour support teacher from Gateshead, hopes the demonstration has encouraged more people to join the People’s Assembly. He also wants it to be a reminder that the crisis was not caused by the people, but by the banks and the sub-prime mortgage lenders in the US.
“The banks have been bailed out but ordinary people have been made to pay for it. There is a small number, around 85 people – a double decker bus load – to be exact, who own as much wealth as 50% of people put together.”
Tony added that the ultimate goal of the People’s Assembly is to make the government come up with an alternative economic strategy to end poverty in the North East and in the rest of the UK.
“We want more jobs, less cut-backs, no privatisation of the NHS,” added Tony.
Source – Newcastle Journal, 23 June 2014
Berwick will be the location of another pair of demonstrations this summer as far-right groups announced intentions to march through the town.
Far-right groups the Scottish Defence League and the North East Infidels plan to travel to Berwick in order to hold a protest on July 5.
At a meeting last Friday Berwick Trades Union Council along with local anti-fascist campaigners discussed the two groups’ planned protest.
A statement was released expressing the council’s “revulsion and deep concern at the prospect of these fascist thugs once again invading our community with their messages of hate and division.
“In February last year Berwick put up a tremendous display of solidarity in opposing the SDL and EDL. The fascists on the other hand chanted racist slogans and caused mayhem in the town centre.”
The statement went on to call for a local response, which will be in the form of a counter demonstration in the same vein as last year.
“We call on all those who supported the anti- fascist demonstration last year to do the same this year but this time to make it even bigger and stronger. Let’s tell these racist thugs they are not welcome in our peaceful and inclusive community. We have an organising meeting on Friday June 20 open to all those groups and individuals in our community who want to show a collective opposition to the fascists.”
The visiting groups are describing their march as a Ban the Burka event, and are planning to wear balaclavas as a sign of protest.
The Berwick United Against Fascism group describe the SDL as a “racist group with an established record of mounting protests which regularly feature racist chanting, placards and Nazi salutes.”
The NEI, meanwhile, are deescribed as a “more openly racist and fascist than the EDL, splitting from it when its leader allowed Jews to join the EDL.”
They are led by Warren Faulkner, who describes himself as “the Islamic terminator and leftist beateruperer.”
There were five SDL arrests during the afternoon, and widespread discontent with the massive cost of policing the demonstrations after traffic through town was stopped.
In a letter to the ‘Advertiser’, resident Michael Stewart complained: “Who is footing the bill for the massive police presence in the town to control this unruly mob? I have a feeling it will be the taxpayer, so that helps to explain why the police precept element of the council tax is rising this year!”
Source – Berwick Advertiser, 16 June 2014
The English Defence League is to march through Newcastle’s West End, despite objections from police.
Northumbria Police’s Chief Constable Sue Sim fears tomorrow’s demonstration will cause distress to residents.
> Well, yes… that’s their whole intention, isn’t it ? That’s why they’re not marching through Gosforth or Jesmond.
However, the far-right group has refused to compromise with the force and change its route so tomorrow’s march will go ahead.
Chief Cons Sim said: “Northumbria Police has been speaking to organisers from the English Defence League for a number of weeks following their announcement that they want to hold a march in Newcastle on Saturday, May 17.
“The EDL expressed an intention to march in the West End of the city through a highly populated, residential area. We have made our position clear that we do not support this as the impact on the local community is too great. It poses a risk to public safety, will cause people fear in their own homes and create significant disruption as people try to go about their daily lives.
“Northumbria Police has always tried to facilitate peaceful protest and has worked with the EDL in the past to agree suitable routes for them to march and protest. We also regularly work with other groups with a range of opposing views to agree routes for marches and protest locations.
“Regrettably, this time EDL organisers have not been prepared to compromise on an alternative route, although we would remind them we are still prepared to discuss alternatives.
“Those planning to attend should be aware there has been no agreement with police with regards to meeting points or route locations.”
Protest group Newcastle Unites has also spoken to police about marching through the West End tomorrow.
And after discussions the route of this demonstration was altered.
Mrs Sim has vowed that officers will be out on the streets to ensure all protests pass peacefully and that residents’ safety will be a priority.
She added: “We have an excellent history of harmonious relations between all our communities and the public should rest assured that their safety remains our priority. We will not allow anything to disrupt their way of life or any marches to take place in residential areas.
“Our neighbourhood officers, known to local communities, together with other officers will be out and about in the run up to and throughout Saturday to reassure local people and answer any questions they may have.
“We have also been working with representatives of the local community and partners in the run up to the weekend.
“We do expect Saturday to be extremely busy in Newcastle but it will be ‘business as usual’. There are a number of events going on in the city centre and surrounding areas but there is no need for anyone to change their plans or avoid the city.”
Northumbria Police’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Vera Baird is now appealing to the EDL to get in touch.
She said: “The Chief Constable has made an operational decision that no march or demonstration should be allowed in the west end of Newcastle on March 17, and, although I do not make operational decisions, as the Police and Crime Commissioner I agree and support her wholeheartedly.
“Few people would wish to have their communities disrupted in that way, including probably those who want to protest.
“In previous demonstrations, protests and marches by the English Defence League (EDL), they have accepted the request to discuss the route and the details with Northumbria Police, who have a good history of protecting the right to protest whilst ensuring that people who are not involved are not seriously inconvenienced.
“It is disappointing that the EDL have refused to give details of their plans to the police.
“I would appeal to them to make contact now and agree reasonable arrangements as usual.”
Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 16 May 2014
Taking sides: Some of the demonstrators at Newtown, Powys. [Image: Mike Sivier] Were you one of the many, many people – both able-bodied and with disabilities – who gathered outside Atos assessment centres yesterday to demand an end to the system that continues to cause the deaths of thousands of innocent people every day?
I attended one of the 144 locations used by Atos to carry out the discredited work capability assessments – in Newtown, Powys – where I was just another face in the crowd that had gathered to remind the public of the atrocity being carried out with their tax money.
The Newtown campaign was undoubtedly small in comparison to others around the country, with a maximum of 15 protesters at its height, but the public response was excellent. The assessment centre is next to a major traffic junction, meaning there were plenty of opportunities to…
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