Canary Wharf Demonstration

Oct 08, 2004

Canary Wharf – scared and hiding behind the law

Friday October 8th 2004
During his speech at Labour Party Conference, as peace campaigner Hector Christie was dragged away in handcuffs, Tony Blair said “You can make your protest. Just thank goodness we live in a democracy and you can.” Seems that situation is now history, as a demonstration highlighting the plight of underpaid and badly treated migrant workers in Canary Wharf has now been banned by the corporations. This morning (Friday) a huge box of documents was delivered to each of Chris Nineham (GR steering committee) and some TGWU officials. It was, it became clear, a court injunction.
When you get vastly paid directors of massive corporations treating their staff like dirt, then banning people from protesting against this sort of behaviour, you start to get a good idea why we campaign against corporate globalisation. This came on a day when the news revealed executive pay rose on average by 16% over the past year, while ordinary pay for proper people went up by only 4%, is their idea of a joke or sadistically rubbing our noses in it?
The banning of this protest is a outright attack on our civil liberties. As Blair was so keen to point out (ironically as Hector was handcuffed) there is the right to protest in this country. Privatisation of the highways, neo-liberalism and corporate friendly legislation make it harder to organise a protest? Is this the kind of democracy they want to bring to Iraq so badly? I think we should be told.
Globalise Resistance wants this demo to go ahead. You can’t tell everyone who’s heard about a demo to not come. Leaflets for the protest have been handed out across Europe, in colleges and town centres across the UK and publicity has been printed and distributed in predictably suitable quantities.
The actions of the Canary Wharf company are irresponsible, have made a real issue over a campaign which was moving forward with determination and dignity. They have created unnecessary friction and we will use the publicity generated in this situation to turn the spotlight on their bad treatment of those who make their workplaces clean and secure.

Managing Director of Canary Wharf tries to stop protest.

Wednesday October 6th 2004
In an act of supreme cowardice, Anthony Partington the managing director of Canary Wharf has got solicitors to write to protest organisers to cancel the protest they’ve called at the british home of multi-national companies, Canary Wharf.
The proposed route of the protest passes the UK headquarters of legal firm Clifford Chase, Banks Morgan Stanley, HSBC Bank of America, CitiGroup, Barclays and plenty more. Newspapers the Daily Telegraph and the Mirror are also housed at the site. all of them have sub contracted migrant workers cleaning their offices. All their cleaners are underpaid. Canary wharf is different to many otrher places in the capital, as the company actually owns the roads, but there is still public rights of access, and as the recent victory for the right to roam in the UK shows, we won’t give up the right to protest either.

What Anthony Partington doesn’t quite grasp is the nature of demonstrations. He has asked that organisers un-invite everyone who’s coming to demonstrate on Friday 15 October at 4pm at Canary Wharf Jubilee Line Station. Ermmm… not very easy thing to do. Given that Globalise Resistance has recently printed thousands of stickers advertising the demo, is Anthony going to pay for the printing (we’d promise not to put them up if he did – no, honestly). Does this man not understand why people protest, to change things that are simply wrong? Just pouring injustice on injustice doesn’t make people think “I’d rather to go shopping anyway, Canary Wharf isn’t exactly on the way home”.
No doubt next week we’ll hear that the terrorist threat posed by a large amount of people gathering at Canary Wharf is something we cannot take risks with. Don’t go there, Anthony, that old chestnut just won’t wash. By the same token Royal events, the victory parades of victorious rugby and olympics teams, and other more patriotic events would be cancelled as well. unless that is we’ll seeing double standards at work.
So whatever letters, court injunctions and threats that might appear, we’ll see you outside Canary Wharf Jubilee Line Station at 4pm on Friday 15 October. the cleaners need a better deal, and cracking a bastion of low pay in London can only be to the benefit for all those who’s pay packets don’t quite stretch to the end of the month.
Join the demo on Friday 15 October at 4pm at Canary Wharf Jubilee Line station.

Ken Loach’s brilliant film Bread and Roses

Monday September 27th 2004

Anyone who has seen Ken Loach’s brilliant film Bread and Roses will be familiar with the story of the Justice for Janitors campaign in the USA. For a decade there has been a unionisation drive and successful campaigns for decent wages and working conditions for janitors or cleaners working for huge multinational corporations across the states.
The campaign has now started in the UK. Headed by the Transport and General Workers Union has already scored some good successes with representing workers and gaining union recognition in several buildings. The campaign has a long way to go however.
Some buildings, such as the one occupied by Clifford Chase, multi national legal firm doesn’t let cleaners use the front door (some kind of medieval set we think. In previous campaigns, cleaners have demanded that they not be ignored by white collar staff and are treated with more respect. Alongside the idea that a minimum wage (£4.60 and hour) is enough to live on, the employers seem to believe that migrant workers are there to be exploited more than others because they’re desperate. This campaign is telling them that this is not the case.
Migrant workers in the UK are in the firing line of corporate globalisation. They are forced into coming to the UK to earn a living, and then denied that living through appalling pay.

Come and see the new version ‘directors cut’ of Bread and Roses, with a personal introduction from Ken Loach himself on Thursday 14 October at 6.30pm.
Prince Charles Cinema, Leicester Place WC2Tickets: £4/£3 members/ESF ticket holdersBox Office 020 7494 3654

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