Demonstrations and civil disobedience across the UK in the first ever national day of action over blacklisting – called by the TUC but organised and built by the Blacklist Support Group – culminate in a blockade outside the Houses of Parliament.
There is now a huge clamour for a public enquiry into this human rights abuse, where building companies deny employment to trade unionists raising health and safety concerns. The result: 2,800 building workers dead on UK building sites over the past 25 years, and 3,214 building workers whose lives have been ruined through being on an illegal blacklist – some of whom have been driven to suicide.
Those responsible for these criminal acts will be getting worried now as they see how huge this campaign is becoming. Blacklisted workers have already rejected an insulting compensation scheme from the building companies – a pathetic and desperate attempt to settle out of court before the start of the high court conspiracy trial next week.
Next protest: Friday November 29, 9am, outside the High Court in the Strand when the trial starts.
We will be joined by Dominic Dyer from Care for the Wild and also an activist who has been in the cull zone saving badgers from the shooters. We’ll be showing some additional related video as well as the film.
Veterans for Peace (VFP) gathered today in Trafalgar square and then marched with their supporters to the Cenotaph under a banner saying ‘NEVER AGAIN’. Present were organiser Ben Griffin a former special forces soldier who left the army in disgust over its actions in Iraq and Joe Glenton who was jailed for refusing to be deployed to Afghanistan.
The organisation, which was set up by ex servicemen to raise awareness about war towards its abolition as a foreign policy, had not contacted the authorities about today’s action. Police stationed around the Whitehall Cenotaph, for what is one of the most rigidly stage managed days of the year, were initially baffled by the veterans action but allowed them to go ahead after some negotiation.
Upon reaching the monument a wreath of predominantly white poppies (symbolising peace) was laid and a veteran of D-Day sang the anti war song 1916. Following this another veteran of the more recent Afghan conflict recited the famous poem ‘Suicide in the trenches‘ by Siegfriend Sassoon. The ceremony ended traditionally with the playing of The Last Post.
Though smaller than its counterpart in the USA the UK veterans movement is increasing in popularity with ex service personnel following the disastrous deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001.
On Thursday October 31st the BBC continuously ran a news item in which they accused the UNITE Trade Union of ‘bullying tactics’. This was brought to our attention by people who recognised that the report contained some of our footage which had been lifted from the REEL NEWS youtube channel.
We would like to make it clear that footage which depicted a demonstration by UNITE members and others against the illegal practice of blacklisting was used without our knowledge or permission. It would be difficult to quantify our anger and disgust when we realised to what purpose our ripped material was being used.
We immediately contacted the BBC and demanded that the report be taken down as it violated both our copyright and our moral rights as creators. The BBC refused and the report continued to roll throughout the day on both the main news programmes and hourly on News 24. The report was later put on BBC iplayer despite our complaint being lodged.
At no point did the BBC attempt to contact us to ask permission to use the footage, though we can be reached very easily through a number of different channels. Nor did they credit the footage to us having used it without permission. We would only sell material to commercial broadcasters upon request if were completely satisfied that we agreed with the context in which it is to be used. We have regularly refused to license material on that principle, regardless of financial incentives offered.
In this case the footage has been used out of context to illustrate a narrative that we would never have agreed with under any circumstances, because that narrative is not supported by evidence. The news item in question centered around a lawful, theatrical and silent protest by, mainly retired, UNITE members outside the home of one of the Grangemouth Refinery bosses. The only available image of the action in question was a poor quality still. The news item then moved to our footage (shot over six months previously) of two UNITE protests that were part of their leverage tactics during the Crossrail dispute, targeting specific construction companies that are ruining people’s lives with the illegal practice of blacklisting. The protests in question were in response to a refusal to talk to the union over the sacking and blacklisting of a UNITE health and safety representative. In fact the second protest was organised in response to Crossrail security attacking the UNITE rep in question the day before, when he was protesting peacefully outside the gates, and was a typical example of bullying and intimidation that had been going on for months.
It is our belief that the BBC would have been aware of these facts as the footage was ripped from a short film with a very clear context and narrative.
Since 2006 REEL NEWS has built a close working relationship with rank and file trade unionists. We are regularly invited to events and actions that we alone are trusted to report on. We will not tolerate the BBC lifting our material and then misusing it to attack the very people whom we are trying to give a voice to.
Today we have had a meeting with officials at the National Union of Journalists and agreed the following course of action. Firstly they will on our behalf be contacting the BBC and demanding a right to reply on the Points of View programme or suitable medium. Secondly we seek and an assurance that this will not happen again. Thirdly we will seeking a financial settlement that reflects both the abuse of our copyright and also the damage to our professional reputation with our Trade Union friends. If the BBC do not cooperate we will not hesitate to pursue a solution through the courts.
Finally the jaw dropping double standards of the BBC’s report are not lost on us. On one hand they claim that a handful of people, most of them pensioners, silently protesting near a millionaires mansion to be “bullying”. Yet the fact that 800 hard working Grangemouth employees were blackmailed into accepting a deal they had previously rejected with the threat of unemployment was not even mentioned. That is exactly the kind of bullying that REEL NEWS was launched to expose.
Here at REEL NEWS we’ve never really understood why people celebrate November 5th? This is after all the date that Mr Fawkes and his comrades saw their mission fail. It is like having an annual night of celebration for still not finding a cure for cancer. However we love fireworks and setting stuff alight so we went to have a look at the London arm of the worldwide Anonymous Million Mask March.
Attempts by the Police to keep protesters out of the road when they arrived at Parliament Square failed miserably as hundreds of people poured into the area around Parliament and set up several sound systems. A number of vehicles including a bus were trapped in the crowd so the TSG were deployed to rescue them. This resulted in scuffles but without any violence. More protesters came to join the party from Westminster Bridge where the Peoples Assembly had been holding a rally and blockade.
The sound systems were complimented by the performances of hip hop artists and also a fire breather. A large part of the crowd then went for a walk towards Buckingham Palace before heading into the West End with outnumbered police trying to keep up. There were further scuffles at a McDonalds and a firework was shot at Buckingham Palace.
Reel News are delighted to be hosting the return of UK Cajun favourites Joli Blon, featuring accordion player Lucy Vines + fiddler Fliss Premru. Put on your dancing shoes for classic Lousiana two-steps and waltzes!
Q magazine describe Morton Valence’s sound as ‘luscious pop music that combines the guitars of Darklands-era Jesus and Mary Chain with the strange sweetness of Nancy Sinatra. There are also ballads, odd funk grooves, lo-fi electro-pop anymore, resulting in a rich treasure trove of songs.’
Or as MV say ‘We make Urban Country music for the culturally disenfranchised.’
A Morton Valence gig is a uniquely sublime experience! http://mortonvalence.com/ https://www.facebook.com/mortonvalence
REEL NEWS has spent the past six weeks periodically filming the opposition to the badger cull in Gloucestershire. It is not hard to see why it is becoming an expensive PR disaster for the Government. The science behind the murder of 5,300 of our most popular wild animals is bitterlycontested, with a growing numbers of scientists and agricultural experts now arguing that it could well make the spread of Bovine TB (for which badgers are blamed) much worse.
Meanwhile, an increasingly popular campaign of civil disobedience and lawful disruption of the cull has been maintained and expanded. Hundreds of people have flooded into the cull zones in Somerset and Gloucestershire, many of them first time protestors, to save as many animals as possible. The Wounded Badger Patrols have ensured that their presence on public footpaths in the killing fields have kept the badgers away from the shooter’s crosshairs.
The creatures are notoriously shy and will stay out of sight when humans are in the area. As there is no law to prevent people from walking public footpaths at anytime of the day or night, there is nothing that supporters of the cull can do about it. Away from the footpaths, many local people have taken to adopting setts and guarding them overnight throughout the culling period.
The Hunt Saboteurs are unsurprisingly taking a more direct approach and have been covering vast areas of the cull zones with activists causing as much disruption as possible. Shooters are being chased out of fields and cage traps are being removed and destroyed in large numbers.
The work of all these groups has forced the government to massively reduce its targets for slaughter and extend the cull by 3 weeks in Somerset and a staggering 8 weeks in Gloucestershire. Many farmers and landowners who had previously signed up to the massacre have pulled out in the face of militant opposition and growing public disgust.
Many local people believe that the real reasons behind the slaughter is the thousands of votes that the Countryside Alliance can deliver for the Tories in marginal rural areas. The Hunting and Shooting set have long been in favour of the cull. Not least because of the threat that badgers pose to pheasants being reared in pens. REEL NEWS discovered during our visits that many of the setts being targeted were miles from any cattle but close to shoots. This supports the claim that this cull is really about protecting the profits of people who charge city gents up to £3,000 a day to blow overfed game birds from the sky.
The identity of those being commissioned by DEFRA and The NFU to do the killing remains shrouded in secrecy. We witnessed them being escorted into the cull zone by police, driving large pick up trucks and wearing balaclavas.
On one occasion activists discovered a clip of live ammunition left in a field. A lone shooter then appeared (they are supposed to work in pairs) and a badger was then seen bolting into the bushes nearby a few seconds later. Campaigners were left wondering if the animal had been trapped in a cage and was being kept in a bag for other purposes, only being released when they arrived unexpectedly.
One very serious concern for animal welfare campaigners is the approved practice of cage trapping. Aside from the sheer distress caused by confining the animal for hours on end prior to its execution, many activists and organisations worry that the practice is open to serious abuse. With very little monitoring of the cull, how can the government be sure that the shooters will collect the £10.00 on offer for a dead badger, when the criminal gangs who organise the utterly repulsive and illegal practice of badger baiting will pay up to £2,000 for a live one?
On another occasion REEL NEWS was present when a distress call was received from activists monitoring the cull. They had returned to their vehicle from a public footpath to find the master of the Ledbury Hunt and three of his minions lying in wait for them. The men gleefully pointed out that their car was not road worthy as both rear view mirrors had been broken off. The activists were then attacked and a man and a woman were assaulted.
The police were nearby and quickly arrived in large numbers. Demonstrating their trademark impartiality, their evidence gathering team proceeded to intrusively film the victims of the attack while ignoring their assailants whom the police were heard describing as cull “contractors.” REEL NEWS then filmed one of the men apparently on the phone to some kind of police liaison for the shooters. He was later arrested for an alleged assault on one of the activists. Around 15 police were standing around doing nothing and expressing no interest in searching the adjoining field for the missing mirrors, which would have surely contained the fingerprints of whoever damaged the car. Would such apathy have been employed if a hunt vehicle had been damaged in this way?
Numerous accusations of bias have been made against the police from a number of different forces whom have been drafted into the cull zones. Complaints range from misuse of the road traffic act and stop and search powers, to passing the details of activists onto the NFU, as well as the imposition of draconian bail conditions. The Ledbury Hunt Master told one local activist that she was breaking her recently lifted bail conditions by being in the area. As her name had not been reported in the media, how exactly did he know about her personal legal information if not from the police?
DEFRA and the NFU have gone to considerable lengths to claim that the shooters are “professional marksmen” operating within strict guidelines, though the selection process, and identity of the shooters remains classified. Members of the Ledbury Hunt are presently being prosecuted by the RSPCA for breaking the 2004 Hunting with Dogs act. The hunt has a violent reputation among animal welfare campaigners with the breaking of vehicle rear view mirrors being a long complained about tactic. Yet DEFRA seem happy to employ people who go out to illegally kill wild animals twice a week for fun as “contractors!”
Despite such hostility from cull supporters and the police the activists who are opposing the cull have continued to organise a highly effective presence. Months of research and planning have ensured a well organised and inclusive campaign of opposition executed with military precision. During our visits REEL NEWS encountered people from a wide range of backgrounds working together in an effective and democratic way.
The different strands of the anti cull movement are accommodating a broad range of people and facilitating their desire to take action. From experienced animals rights activists whom are prepared to risk arrest, to those whom insist on operating within the law.
It is also not just the badgers that have benefited from so many campaigners being in the zones. The Vale Wildlife Hospital has seen a massive increase in injured animals being admitted in a range of different circumstances. Many believe that as well as humiliating the Government, opposition to the badger cull will ultimately result in the raising of awareness and appreciation of the value of nature and wildlife in England and Wales.
In Gloucestershire the cull has been extended until December the 18th. This means that pregnant badgers will now be targeted. Money and volunteers are needed to ensure that the shooters continue to fail to meet their targets. Accommodation is available for people traveling from outside the area. Individuals or organisations wishing to donate or get involved can find out more from the local Wounded Badger Patrol and Hunt Sab groups.
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The second regional NUT/NASUWT strike is just as angry as the first one as teachers walk out in London, South East, South West, North East and Cumbria. In London, 15,000 teachers march on the Department of Education, demanding the sacking of Michael Gove. This dispute is going way beyond pay and pensions; this is now a battle for the future of education.
As the Fire Brigades Union’s battle to stop the Government’s dangerous pension changes intensifies, 5,000 firefighters from all over Britain march through London. They explain that cuts to fire stations, fire engines, jobs and resources are happening all over the country, and that firefighters as well as members of the public will die as a result. The next FBU strike is on Saturday October 19 from 6:30pm – 11:30pm – show your support and help save our fire service.