London’s Protest Stickers: Work

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Stickers of all kinds are common in urban areas (Photo: Hannah Awcock, King’s Cross Station, 27/02/16 ).

Since austerity began a decade ago, people in all forms have employment have had to endure a fall in their working conditions. Issues include reductions in pensions, reductions in pay, increased workload, and the rise of zero-hour and fixed term contracts.

There are a number of groups that campaign for improved working conditions and better wages. Most of them are unions, although working conditions and wages are also the concern of campaign groups and social movements. Unions range in size; from the very large and powerful, such as Unite and the National Union of Teachers, to the small and specific. Many unions in the UK are part of the Trades Union Congress, which offers support to unions and campaigns for the rights of working people. Many of these organisations can be found amongst the work-related protest stickers on London’s streets.

To see where I found these stickers, check out the Turbulent London map.

13-09-15 Bethnal Green Road

Some protest stickers related to work are quite general, like this one. This sticker was produced by Strike! a dissident female-run collective that publishes a quarterly magazine (Photo: Hannah Awcock, Bethnal Green Road, 13/09/15).

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This sticker links wages with quality of work. I’m not sure that many people in low-paid work would feel confident enough to take this kind of action, out of fear of losing their jobs completely. The text is yellow is the same message in Polish. Workers from Poland and other countries in eastern Europe are often blamed for low wages, but many radical groups understand the need for solidarity with non-British workers, rather than their victimisation. This sticker was produced by Workers Wild West, a worker’s newspaper based in Ealing in West London (Photo: Hannah Awcock, Cable Street, 09/10/16)

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This sticker was produced by the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist) (CPGN-ML). The 1st of May is celebrated as a holiday in many cultures, but it has been closely associated with the international worker’s movement for more than a century. It seems that someone disapproved of the image of Lenin on this sticker, and tried to remove it (Photo: Hannah Awcock, Charing Cross Road, 23/03/17).

18-08-15 Mile End Road

Unison is the UK’s largest union for public services, with 1.3 million members. The living wage, which is higher than the minimum wage, is an important issue in places like London, where the cost of living is so high (Photo: Hannah Awcock, 18/08/15 Mile End Road).

03-09-15 Euston Road (8)

The bigger unions are often organised into local branches. This sticker was produced by Camden Unison, and advertises a strike by traffic wardens in the area. The sticker is designed to look like a parking fine ticket–I’m not sure many drivers would find it amusing! (Photo: Hannah Awcock, 03/09/15, Euston Road).

09-10-16 St. George's Gardens (15)

The Solidarity Federation is not a union, it is the British branch of the International Worker’s Association. They support the formation of local groups and networks in order to form a worldwide solidarity movement (Photo: Hannah Awcock, 09/10/16, St George’s Garden).

12-03-15 Malet Street

This sticker was produced by the Fire Brigades Union, which is fairly self-explanatory. In 2015, when this photo was taken, they were in a dispute with the government over plans for firefighter’s pensions, which led to strike action (Photo: Hannah Awcock, 12/03/15, Malet Street).

14-04-15 Upper Street, Islington

This sticker was produced by the RMT union (otherwise known as the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers) represents workers from all sectors of the transport industry. It has been in the news a lot recently, because of conflicts over the use of guards on trains (Photo: Hannah Awcock, 14/04/15 Upper Street, Islington).

15-04-15 Euston Road

This sticker was produced by the Wirral branch of the TUC. The politician Esther McVey was the Minister of State for employment between 2013 and 2015. Zero hour contracts, where the number of hours workers are given each week are not guaranteed, are another controversial development of recent years (Photo: Hannah Awcock, 15/04/15, Euston Road).

18-02-15 Inner London Crown Court

PCS is the Public and Commercial Services Union, representing employees in the civil service and government agencies. (Photo: Hannah Awcock, 18/02/15, Inner London Crown Court).

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The GMB began life in 1889 as the Gas Workers and General Union. It is not a general union, which means anyone can join, no matter how they make their living. This sticker is demanding the minimum wage rise to £10 an hour (Photo: Hannah Awcock, 18/10/16, Broad Sanctuary).

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This sticker is also calling for a £10/hr minimum wage. It is produced by the Bakers Food and Allied Workers Union, hence the pun that the sticker uses (Photo: Hannah Awcock, 23/03/17, Euston Road).

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This sticker does not promote a particular campaign group or union. The text at the bottom of the sticker is Spanish for “the fight continues!” Cleaners are often very poorly paid. I found this sticker near the University of London buildings in Bloomsbury, which has been the focus of a campaign in recent years over the rights of cleaners. Many employers subcontract out work such as cleaning, which frequently results in low pay and poor working conditions (Photo: Hannah Awcock, 09/02/15, Gordon Street).

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Unless this sticker was produced by a rap group or a clothing label, I haven’t been able to figure out who ‘Foreign Boyz’ are. Whoever they are, they oppose zero hour contracts (Photo: Hannah Awcock, 21/09/17, Tottenham Court Road).

 

 

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