Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Peoples history on the March.

Yesterday, at The Orgreave Truth and Justice picket of The Home Office, I took the opportunity to take some pictures of a few of the many Trades Union banners on display, a very potent working class art form.

This is a Peoples history on the march.

And here, all the way up from the South Coast is the Hastings District of Unite!, formally the mighty Transport and General Workers Union; 

While here is the 30th anniversary Miners Strike banner of the 'Lesbian and Gay men Support The Miners' - the group whose story is told in the excellent 2014 film 'Pride'.

The brother holding the banner on the our right is one of the original campaigners portrayed in the movie.

Here is The East London District of Unite! - technically my branch as that's where they had their meetings. 

A pride of place was reserved for this fine banner from The South Yorkshire Area of The National Union of Miners, setting out the districts experience of the great strike;

Here in greater detail;

This is the North Selby Lodge banner, setting out the entire history of the 1984 strike; The Women's Support Groups, International Solidarity, The Price of Coal;

Here some more detail;

At the bottom is a list of the mines that closed as a result of the defeat of the Miners, as predicted by Arthur Scargill and always denied by the Government and the Coal Board as their intention during the strike.

'Total Eclipse of The Sun' is the Liverpool campaign against Rupert Murdoch's newspaper because of the lies it told about the victims of The Hillsborough Tragedy;

There were a couple of banners from The Shrewsbury Pickets campaign; in the aftermath of the 1972 Building workers strike 24 building workers were convicted of Conspiracy and six were jailed. Of these the most famous were Des Warren who died in prison as a result of being forced to take large doses of psychiatric drug (the 'chemical cosh as it was then known) and Ricky Tomlinson who like the rest was blacklisted and unable to work. He changed career and is now a successful actor.

Their campaign is to open up the records and for full pardons for the building workers who were wrongly convicted for fighting for their rights.

Here's a walking history lesson from Bath Trades Council in the West Country - a list of unions some still with us, some long merged into others;

ASTMS - Scientific workers
AUEW - Engineers
BIFU - Banking
COHSE - Health workers
CPSA - Civil Servants
FBU - Fire Brigades
FTAT - Furniture workers
GMWU - General and Municipal workers
NUJ - Journalists
NALGO - Local Government workers
NGA - National Graphical Association - Printers
NUPE - National Union of Public Employees
NUT - Teachers
SOGAT - Printers
TGWU - Transport and General Workers
TASS - Draughtsmen
UCATT- Construction workers
UPW - Postal workers.

Meanwhile, here's the rear of The Yorkshire Area of The National Union of Mineworkers banner, showing their headquarters.

To the left is the statue with wreaths, commemorating the deaths of David Jones and Joe Green, two Yorkshire Miners who died on the picket line in the strike;

Meanwhile here is the banner of North Selby branch of NUM Yorkshire with a particularly fine modern artwork depicting the strike; the struggle against Thatcher, the State, the Legal System and the press;

It was nice to meet my comrades Daphne and Owen who were at the Picket taking some properly professional photos; Daphne sent me this one of us standing in front of the ASLEF banner - The Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen. This banner was being carried by some of the leadership of the union and they are currently in struggle themselves, fighting to preserve guards on trains for passenger safety;

ASLEF, an old craft union of the 19th century fights on; here is a very traditional banner mourning the passing of two well known activists, complete with black bands for the banner poles.

A fine memorial;

Here's an ASLEF banner in a crisp modern style;

Croydon's Trades Union Council were there and their banner shows some of the local struggles they've been fighting over the years, including anti-racism and solidarity with the Miners;

'The History of Loyalty' - the banner of The Durham Miners' Association celebrates some well known Miners' leaders from the North East - on the left is David Hopper, the much respected Chief Marshall of The Durham Miners' Gala who died shortly after the Gala last year.

The back of the banner depicts Tony Benn addressing The Gala (The Big meeting), where to this day the banners of the mines of the North East are paraded into Durham accompanied by brass bands. Last year the attendance reached 150,000 making it one of the major Labour Movement events of the year. 

There was a big attendance from Liverpool at the picket; in addition to the North West PCS Samba Band, the Civil Servants brought their regional banner with them.

'One Fight for Justice'; the joint banner of The Hillsborough Campaign and the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign;

Finally, here's Liverpool Unite! with the combined campaigns banner.

I didn't get all the banners on the day but I hope you've enjoyed this visual trip through our recent working class history.

A Lotta Continua!
The Struggle Continues!

Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)
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