Tuesday 12th Jan saw the first day of the National Junior Doctors series of strike days. There was a good turn out of support on the picket line outside of The Great western Hospital in Swindon. The Junior Doctors were joined by The Green Party and by The Swindon Peoples Assembly who showed solidarity with the strikers.
Part of the reason why I like being a photojournalist is the press scrum. It is fun and funny. Pushing and shoving some of the time. Other times we all let each other take prime spot and change around.
Yesterday I was photographing Ed Miliband who was visiting Los Gatos in Old Town Swindon as part of the Election trail and to show support for Anne Snelgrove the local Labour candidate for Swindon South. Los Gatos was just heaving with customers and Labour supporters before the media got in there. It was heavily controlled by the Police and Labour party officials and so we had to be in before he arrived. Not only that, all the media had to be behind the bar!!!!! So we were all pretty much going to get the same shots. I was too late in grabbing a chair to stand on and at first all I got was the backs of all the rest of the media. (See photo). After that I just moved around a bit trying to get something different. I don’t think I managed to achieve it. I did manage to get Ed Miliband being interviewed by the Swindon Advertiser journalist. Only because the Labour official in charge thought I was with them so I didn’t tell him otherwise 🙂
My point in all of this is that news photojournalism is all just a matter of luck, being at the right place at the right time. Pushing and shoving and standing your ground at times. Being really nice and accommodating at others.
Fun though, either way.
There was a small demo outside of the Swindon Job Centre on the morning of the 19th Feb, against the government’s use of ATOS, the company commissioned to vet benefits applications of sick and disabled people signed off by their DR’s It was part of a nationwide protest.
Yesterday 28th April was Workers Memorial Day, where people who have either died or been injured in work related accidents or circumstances are remembered. The South West commemorated the day by holding a service at Bristol Cathedral followed by the laying of wreaths at the Workers Memorial. This was quite an important service as it was the first time that the service/meeting has been held inside a Cathedral and Bristol were rightly proud to allow this to happen. There were also some important speakers at the service. Amongst those who spoke were Michelle Stanistreet the General Secretary of the National Union of Journalists and Dave Smith the head of the Blacklist Support Group, both very important and high profile figures. Dave Smith is heading up the fight against the illegal practice of Blacklisting. And if you are not sure what is going on there, then I suggest it is worth checking it out. It is something that could affect us all and is very quickly becoming a major major issue. Other speakers included Cannon Tim Higgins, Nigel Cotley of South West TUC, Julia Verne of the Public Service Health Observatory, Farzana Saker from Bristol Multi Faith Forum, Sam Maher from Labour behind the Label and Sally Challoner from BBC Points West.
So in my language it was all about being able to go to work in a safe environment and not one where you go to work in the morning and end the day in a body bag or in hospital. Isnt that a worthy cause???
Well no photo of Sunday anymore. Why? I have been carrying out quite a bit of research and despite it being only the 4th Sunday of the year I have decided to bin it because it is not providing any benefit to me or anybody else. Stats are showing very few hits on those posts and to be honest I can understand why. There is no theme and is therefore completely random and unless I am on another assignment then I am just taking an image just for the sake of it with very little thought behind it. With very little information around the photo, why it was taken etc then why would anybody actually be interested in reading it.
What I should be doing more of is explaining things and why I do them, how I do them etc.
So as a start, I did a small photo shoot this morning. It was only mug shots for the person to send off as part of his profile as part of a competition. It was carried out in a gym, (in the squash court to be precise) where lighting is just awful. And short of getting the flash and umbrellas out it was a case of the ISO at 3200 and hope for the best. I just did not feel happy with the results which prob will suffice for what it was for but I just did not feel satisfied. Which at the end of the day is what it is all about for me. I have to feel emotionally involved in what I am doing and I didnt. Is that true of all professional photographers? I dont want to just earn money and not feel as though I have not done a good job.
So this blog is going to go back to the Swindon News/Photojournalism and I am not going to try to combine other things with it.
Likewise I am going to re-design my website to provide a better experience, better show case for my better images from both the UK and Spain and try to make it more interesting.
Well, first day back in Swindon and what am I faced with. Jessops going into administration and Honda laying off 800 workers. Blimey, depressing or what. Well, I am not so sure. Firstly Jessops have been having problems for years and I believe that they have not really moved with the times and the demands of the market. And of course there are other really good Camera shops in Swindon. Honda, well yep I have to say this is bad news. Have Honda got it wrong, yep I would say so, and having been made redundant twice myself I feel for those who are going to lose their jobs. I do think that it will affect the local economy as well as another 800 people looking for jobs that are not really there. Also, and it has not been really advertised very much but Alcatel-Lucent the Telecomms Company based in Westlea are also making people redundant. In some areas 1 in 4 people are going!!!! Ok not as many as Honda by any means but does need to be highlighted.
However, new business is picking up, people are hiring, there is a positive vibe going around but more in the small business arena rather than big business. Poppins Cafe is one example, is it new?, I have not noticed it before!!! People may not like the jobs that are on offer, they may not like the starting salaries etc but to me work is work and you just have to get on with it and not rely on the state to do it all for you. If you have the drive and determination you can do anything.
Whilst out shopping this morning in Baza (Granada province of Andalucia) I came across a couple of guys handing out leaflets informing people of and encouraging them to attend a protest against austerity and anti capitalism in Baza on the 3rd of January. Of course I could not resist talking to them, taking a photo of them and of course I will be at the protest on the 3rd. The message is STOP Capitalism and that this is the ‘hour for revolution!’ Below is a translated copy of the leaflet.
A month after the 14N (general strike on 14th November 2012) the silence continues.
In spite of the increase in unemployment in numerous sectors (including the food and agriculture industry) and in spite of the demonstrations with millions of workers and youth in the streets the union CCOO (comiciones obreras – commission of workers) and UGT (Unión General Trabajadores – General union of workers) continue with the only proposal on the horizon… a referendum.
However, it is felt that the government of Mariano Rajoy is not going to call a referendum when they know there is a great possibility they will lose.
Based on the sectors that are currently fighting, conflicts multiply throughout the region. The majority have been in Madrid for the past year and a half.
The educational community carried out a demonstration with over 150,000 attendees in July in solidarity with the struggle of the miners. As well as the actions of the 25s (occupation of Congress on 25th September) and resisting police repression and the struggle for public health, was the strike of the workers of Telemadrid who were threatened by ERE (Expediente de regulación de empleo) that they could fire more than 800 workers.
Authors note. ERE is a ‘record of employment’ regulation and is a procedure under current Spanish law whereby a company, supposedly in a bad economy, is seeking authorization to suspend or fire workers. It aims to obtain from the competent labor authority permission to suspend or terminate labor relations in a framework in which guarantees certain rights of workers.
The best antidote is the unification of all these struggles done in association with each other.
Toward a general strike in Madrid.
Unions must convene in Madrid and uniformly carry out a regional general strike. Where there is already a widespread strike in a particular sector, such as health in Madrid, they should promote a general strike of the health in the region as a whole.
Today, the protests are centered in Madrid and it is necessary that the whole of the working community and the youth join in with global mobilization. Strike committees, assemblies, all occupations should join together for a general strike.
In Baza we should also ensure that all resistances converge, in defense of the hospital and the defense of education.
These are measures that would show the government is on the side of the workers:
Don’t pay more to those who have more.
Abolish the tax exemptions to the bosses.
Expropriation of the banks, not a public euro more for banks.
To maintain employment, repeal of the labor reforms, distribution of working time, reduction of the working day and the age of retirement with no decrease in salaries.
When prices rise, they also have to raise wages, benefits and pensions.
These measures may be imposed only by the general mobilization and mass of the workers and the youth, the struggle is the only guarantee.
There are no shortcuts.
All of us therefore have a responsibility to influence the political decisions and bring about a radical change in this crisis situation untenable for the vast majority of the population.
Three members of the Swindon GMB Trades Union two of which were dressed up in Panto gear were in the centre of Swindon this lunchtime. They were there to raise the issue of, hand out leaflets about and get people to sign the petition of, ‘Say No To Postcode Pay’.
This is all about the plans of twenty trusts across the South West collaborating in a cartel on radical changes to the pay and conditions of the staff (as well as cutting staff by up to 15%) and create a regional pay system. The petition is to try to get the Government to get these 20 trusts to roll back their plans and instead focus on protesting patients, staff and the economy.
There was a protest today (Monday 12th Dec) outside of the High Street Store NEXT.
It was held by the Swindon Branch of The GMB Trades Union. They were protesting about the fact that NEXT have posted profits of 640 million whilst allegedly paying some of their staff well below minimum wage at £4.40
Whilst small it did attract quite a lot of interest and many people stopped to take leaflets and find out what it was all about.
Along with several hundred others, members of Swindon GMB took part in the protest march through the centre of Bristol on saturday.
GMB, BDA, BMA, British Association of Occupational Therapists, CSP, FCS, HCSA, RCM, The Society of Radiographers, UNISON and Unite join forces against the cartel at the ‘We are One NHS’ march and rally
GMB members alongside members of the other NHS unions and public service supporters joined forces in Bristol at the march and rally to show their support for the NHS and their opposition to the South West NHS Pay, Terms and Conditions Consortium.
At the rally they called upon the 19 Trusts in the South West ‘Pay Cartel’ to withdraw from the cartel. The Trust numbers reduced recently from 20 to 19, after Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals Trust pulled out of the cartel.
They are trying to save and safeguard the future of the NHS for the likes of me and you. Those of us who need it the most and cannot afford private health.