Tag: rally

Refugees Welcome Here

Saturday 12 September
Barnsley Demonstration and Rally, May Day Green, 1.00pm.

This day of action has been called in response to the unfolding human tragedy across Europe as thousands of refugees flee war, persecution, torture and poverty. Thousands have lost their lives in the process or are living in appalling conditions as they struggle to find a safe haven.

Over 2,400 refugees have drowned in the Mediterranean already this year. The shocking picture of baby Aylan Kurdi washed up on a Turkish beach epitomizes the appalling humanitarian tragedy taking place. But the response of David Cameron and the government to this has been disgraceful.

On Monday 14 September Home Secretary Theresa May will meet with EU leaders to discuss the refugee crisis. We must learn the lessons of history and call on the government to take a humanitarian and compassionate response to refugees, and to meet its share of the responsibility for providing protection.

Let’s send a strong message: We say refugees are welcome here.

Download the flyer: Refugees_welcome_here_NATIONAL_A5


31st anniversary rally at OLD BRIDGE, TOP END, just off Handsworth Road, S13 9NA on Thursday 18 June 2015 at 5.30pm

Press release – 16 June 2015
The Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign (OTJC) is holding a rally at Orgreave on 18 June, the 31st anniversary of the Battle of Orgreave that took place during the year long miners’ strike in 1984-85.

Recollections of 18 June 1984 will be combined with an update on the struggle by the OTJC for a public inquiry.

Speakers to include:-

  • Tosh MacDonald – ASLEF President
  • Barbara Jackson – OTJC Secretary
  • Chris Skidmore – Yorkshire Area NUM President
  • Kevin Horne & Arthur Critchelow – miners arrested at Orgreave in 1984
  • Craig and Mick Oldham, who will be reading from ‘In Loving Memory of Work.’
  • Juztine Jenkinson – daughter of photographer Martin Jenkinson
95 miners were arrested at Orgreave after thousands of police officers – many in riot gear, with others on horseback – brutally assaulted miners participating in a strike aimed at defending jobs and mining communities. However when the subsequent court cases took place all of the charges – which included, in many cases, riot – were abandoned when it became clear that the police’s oral and written evidence was unreliable. Each prosecution had been supported by two police officers making near-identical statements. Later, South Yorkshire Police (SYP) paid out £425,000 in compensation to 39 pickets in out of court settlements. Nevertheless, no police officers were disciplined for misconduct or charged for the injuries they caused to those they attacked.It was in November 2012 that SYP – already under pressure following the release of the report by the Hillsborough Independent Panel that has led to fresh inquests into the death of 96 Liverpool fans – referred itself to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) to decide whether there should be a full investigation into what happened at Orgreave on 18 June and in the earlier picketing at the plant in May/June 1984.

The IPCC took 2.5 years to conduct a scoping (initial investigation) but last week announced that due to the historical nature of the allegations it would not be conducting a full investigation. The IPCC had failed to locate a series of important documents including the policing operational orders drawn up for 18 June. The police watchdog’s report did though identify a cover up by SYP of malpractice it knew had taken place and largely conceded that only a public inquiry can eventually get to the truth.

OTJC was not surprised at the IPCC’s decision and is buoyed by the news that the Home Secretary Theresa May has subsequently stated she would consider any request to set up a public inquiry into Orgreave. OTJC is currently taking some legal advice about how best to proceed and meanwhile there are plans for a Parliamentary meeting with MPs. The struggle for a public inquiry will therefore be reaffirmed at the 31st anniversary rally this Thursday.

The rally at the Old Bridge, Top End, just off Handsworth Road, S13 9NA will commence at 5.30pm on Thursday 18 June.

For more details please contact:- Barbara Jackson on 0114 250 9510 or 07504 413829 or Mark Metcalf on 07952 801783 http://otjc.org.uk

Sheffield anti-austerity demo, May 16 2015

The anti-austerity protest in Sheffield at the weekend was well attended with a great party atmosphere. Natalie Bennett, leader of the Green party attended the march and spoke at the rally along with many others including Barbara Jackson of Orgreave Truth & Justice and Tony Wright of Barnsley band, The Hurriers.

”People’s protest” gives 91-year-old veteran hope we can fight for fairer wages for all

This article by Harry Leslie Smith originally appeared in the Mirror.


More than 90,000 people marched this weekend to tell the Government: “Britain needs a pay rise”.

Everyone from young children to pensioners, public sector workers to celebrities took to the streets of London to protest at the TUC-organised demonstration.

Among the inspiring speakers was war veteran Harry Leslie Smith who spoke up movingly for the NHS at the Labour Party Conference.

Here the 91-year-old explains why the fight for a pay rise is one the country can’t afford to lose…

I am writing this as I prepare to leave the capital to return to the north. Outside of my hotel window I see London, like the rest of our country, can’t even rest on the 7th day.

Not one corner of our island is quiet because, after four long years of Cameron’s coalition government, we must work every waking hour to stretch pennies into pounds to meet the rising cost of living.

Austerity has ground the British economy into one that profits the elite at the expense of everyone else who toils on zero-hour contracts or tries to live off of stagnant wages.

For many, these are grim and pessimistic days that are made more dismal by the exorbitant cost of higher education, housing, fuel and food.

Life hasn’t been this difficult since the days of my youth in the 1930s and so, despite the fact that I am in my golden years, I can feel empathy and much concern for the future of today’s young.

But I am not too discouraged by the horrendous cost austerity has exacted on Britain.

I find that there is much reason to hope that soon our country will return to its standard of fair play for all.

I take heart in demonstrations like the TUC’s “Britain needs a pay rise” that was held in Hyde Park on Saturday.

Despite the fact that I am in my 90s and have been retired from the working world for close to 30 years I walked with thousands of others because I know what it is like to be paid an unfair wage.

But I was encouraged by what I heard and saw throughout the day.

People who turned up weren’t radicals, agitators or malcontents but ­ordinary folk from all walks of life and ­professions who wanted to raise their collective voice to fight the ­injustice.

The young, middle aged and soon-to-be retired were all equally represented and they all believed they were not only marching for themselves but for every worker who is struggling to live from pay cheque to pay cheque.

As I broke bread with these strangers – who all shared one noble ambition to receive just compensation for their labours – I was struck by their ­optimism and resilience.

All knew this battle for fair wages begins and ends with the workers who must mobilise either through their unions or through collective action.

It must be done as one young man said to me, like the great civil rights movements of days gone by, through peaceful protests against corporations who dole out profits to their shareholders but refuse to invest their wealth back into Britain by paying proper taxes and wages.

Protesters are rightfully confident their actions on Saturday and in the ensuing months will bring change for the better to British workers’ wages.

For me I don’t doubt their perseverance and optimism will prevail and soon we will see changes for the better to the lives of British workers.

Britain needs a pay rise: march and rally

Tens of thousands of trade unionists, public services employees and anti-austerity protestors marched in London on Saturday.

Report and update from Saturday’s Demonstration on 19/07/2014

Another great day. Threats of thunderstorms; many people taking part in a demonstration against the English Defence League in Hexthorpe; many others demonstrating in Sheffield and Rotherham about the tragedy in Gaza yet we still had over 100 turned up for the Barnsley demonstration. Large numbers wearing the Freedom Ride t-shirts, banners and placards and lots of singing and chanting made a great impression.

One of our supporters has been fined £150 by Northern Rail for travelling without a ticket. Over £150 was collected at our rally, quite a bit given by people passing by and hearing what had happened.

Tosh McDonald from ASLEF turned up to give his union’s support again at a very enthusiastic rally outside the bus station.

We had a symbolic walk round to the platform where Northern Rail got into a panic, trying to lock the gate.

The rally agreed that the next Freedom Ride will be on Monday 28th July at 11am at Barnsley train station.

Barnsley Council is meeting this Thursday at 10.30am and they will have the minutes of the transport committee on the agenda which made the decision about changing the concessions. We are having a lobby outside the town hall from 9.30am, come along at whatever time you can manage. And contact your local councilors before Thursday – ask them to stop and speak to us outside to discuss our ideas for returning the train concessions. We want them to say whether they support us.

At 11am on Thursday we have an open planning meeting at Barnsley library – come along if you can.

A number of people have put in complaints about what happened to them at Sheffield station. Let me know if you have done that as well. I have details of what to do in making a complaint if you want to make one.

Once more unto the breach, dear friends!

30 Years On: NUM Miners' Strike Commemorative March
The spirit of ’84/85.

The weather was dreadful. Really, really dreadful. But then again, it was Glastonbury weekend, so maybe it should have been expected. With a display of the grim humour that got many through the 1984-85 Miners’ Strike, it was suggested that Thatcher was behind the heavy rain that lashed the NUM march through Barnsley, in commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the year long strike. “She pissed on us in life and now she’s pissing on us in death”.

Hundreds gathered in the historic Miners’ Hall at the NUM headquarters in Barnsley, in preparation for the short march through Barnsley town centre. On display was the paraphernalia of a once proud industry that had bound communities together, clustered around the pit heads of South Yorkshire. An industry that was cruelly crushed by a government hell-bent on destroying the unions, in their determination to further a free market agenda that dogs us to this day.

30 Years On: NUM Miners' Strike Commemorative March
One of the many banners on display.

The march began to assemble in the increasingly heavy rain. With union banners on display from collieries and regions all over the country, the over-riding atmosphere was of camaraderie and of pride. The brass band struck up and the march was off in a blaze of sound and colour, in defiance of the slate grey sheets of rain.

30 Years On: NUM Miners' Strike Commemorative March
Left to right: NUM General Secretary Chris Kitchen, Barnsley East MP Michael Dugher, Barnsley Central MP Dan Jarvis, Unite’s Kevin Coyne and NUM President Nicky Wilson.

Just off the Dearne Valley Parkway lies Cortonwood. Now a retail park with stores such as Argos, Sports Direct, McDonalds and Matalan, it is hard to believe that this was once the site of the colliery where the strike started. It seems sadly symbolic that in this place, where men once hewed coal from the ground and began the march out that led to the most bitter strike of recent history, the forces of commerce have moved in. Bulldozed away the remnants of industry and replaced them with stores full of consumer goods, fast food and minimum wages.

When the strike began, I was an 18 year old coal worker, bagging coal at a distribution yard in Huddersfield. I still remember the gritty crunch of coal dust in my mouth and how it ingrained itself into your skin. I remember how the old guys who drove the delivery trucks, after a lifetime of handling coal had been stained a dirty grey colour. I had nothing but respect for those that did the job of hauling coal to the surface and when the lorries started to bring coal from the working pits into the yard (under the pretence that it was destined for hospitals), I resigned.

30 Years On: NUM Miners' Strike Commemorative March
Ian Clayton addresses the rally.
30 Years On: NUM Miners' Strike Commemorative March
NUM President Nick Wilson delivers his passionate speech.

Back at the Miners’ Hall, there was a rally. Looking out over the sodden congregation, Ian Clayton opened with the observation that soon the steam would begin to rise and that it probably wouldn’t be the first time in this historic venue. Ian and all of the speakers that followed, Kevin Coyne from Unite, Women Against Pit Closures and NUM President Nicky Wilson, gave fine speeches, full of pride in their culture and defiance against the neo-liberal machine that has brought the industry to the brink of extinction.

Sadly, Owen Jones didn’t show up, but George Arthur of the Freedom Riders gave an often humorous insight into current policing practises, following the arrest of two Freedom Riders protesters at Sheffield train station earlier in the week. NUM General Secretary Chris Kitchen closed the rally by ironically thanking South Yorkshire Police for assisting in the town centre road closures, “the last time the police showed me where to park was at Orgreave”.

30 Years On: NUM Miners' Strike Commemorative March
NUM President Nicky Wilson (left), NUM General Secretary Chris Kitchen (centre) and Kevin Coyne of Unite.

There is still hope for the future of the coal industry in the UK. The NUM and Unite have joined together in a venture called Coal Combine. At the Carbon Capture & Storage / Coal Combine Seminar in January, delegates from deep mines, surface mines and coal burning power stations took part, uniting not just the two unions but workers from the energy sector. The newly launched website can be found here.

I attended the march as a photographer, but that 18 year old coal worker of my past marched under the banners in solidarity with a battle which may have been lost, but shoulder to shoulder with my comrades in the war for rights and justice which continues.

See a short video of the march at the Sheffield Star here.