Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Plaque to Annie Kenney in Lees, Oldham

Annie Kenney - Oldham, Lancashire 

There is a blue plaque to Annie  Kenney at Leesbrook Mill in Lees in Oldham where the working class suffragette started full-time work in 1892 as a weaver's assistant. She later suffered a serious injury when one of her fingers was ripped off by a spinning bobbin. 

Kenney became involved in trade union activities but she is best known for her involvement in the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU). In October 1905, Kenney and Christabel Pankhurst interrupted a politician meeting to ask Winston Churchill and Sir Edward Grey about their views on whether women should be allowed to vote. 

When neither man replied and the women then got out a banner declaring 'Votes for Women' they were thrown out and arrested for obstruction. Kenney went to prison for 3 days. She was later involved in many other similar acts and suffered imprisonment on many occasions and during which time she was often force fed after participating in hunger strikes.  

Kenney was unusual in that unlike many of the leading WSPU members she was working class and when the organisation decided to open a branch in the East End of London she agreed to leave the mill and work full-time for the WSPU. 

When Christabel Pankhurst fled to France in 1912 to avoid arrest it was Kenney who was put in charge of the WSPU in London.  After the WSPU began destroying the contents of pillar-boxes and attempted to burn down the houses of two government members opposed to women having the vote, Kenney was again arrested and sentenced to 18 months in gaol for 'incitement to riot.' She became the first suffragette released from prison under the provisions of the 'Cat and Mouse Act' that released women on hunger strike in order to prevent them becoming martyrs and then re-arrested them when they recovered. 

Kenney escaped to France and when the First World War was declared in 1914 she returned home after the WSPU ended their campaign and backed the military conflict with Christabel and Emmeline Pankhurst helping recruit men to the armed forces. 

Kenney later lost interest in politics and she died on 9 July 1953 with her husband, James Taylor, claiming his wife had never properly recovered from her hunger strikes.

Rebel Road would like to thank Oldham's Alan Bedford, a Unite safety rep who is a technician at BAE systems in Middleton, Manchester, for information on the plaque to Annie Kenney.

"I am a life long socialist and my local area of Oldham has a great working class heritage that should be celebrated and brought to the attention of the current generation so they can be inspired to emulate the great people of the past," said Alan.    

Photographs copyright Mark Metcalf. 



Taken from Rebel Road project of Unite Education department

A bespoke memorial plaque in honour of the Newry Dock Strike and lockout of 1907 and the man who led it, James Fearon, was unveiled by Newry and District Trade Union Council and the Newry Maritime Association on 30 March 2015.

Written information about the strike on the plaque, which is located on Merchants Quay, is accompanied by a photograph of Fearon and Newry dockers as well as a starving family and bread and roses on the plinth. 

The strike started on 19 November 1907 when Newry dockers, who were members of the National Union of Dock Labourers (NUDL), one of Unite's predecessor unions, supported striking Belfast dockers by refusing to unload ships diverted from Belfast. Newry dockers had become organised after James Fearon had accompanied James Larkin when he returned from Britain in 1905. 

Despite hostility from local and regional employers, politicians, the church and press the strikers showed great resolve as they pressed to improve wages and working conditions. Poverty ultimately brought down the strike on 30 December when those who returned to work had to agree not to belong to the NUDL, whilst those who remained members were victimised and unable to find employment and feed their families. 

Fearon was later forced to enter the local workhouse and in 1912 he left to move to Scotland where he continued to play a part in the trade union movement up until his death in 1924. A short book on Fearon's life was published in 2000: The Third James(*), James Fearon, 1874-1924, An unsung hero of our struggle. This was written by Bill McCamley. Rebel Road is hoping to make this available in due course. 

C Patton also wrote his dissertation, titled, The Newry Dock Strike 1907, and, again, Rebel Road hopes to make this freely available in due course. 

Many thanks for the information that appears here to Ronan Turley, a Unite rep in Warrenpoint and who is a delegate from his branch to Newry Trades Union Council. "I was really pleased when it proved possible to get the plaque designed and unveiled. It should encourage people to find out more about this important labour movement event," said Ronan. 

  • This is a reference to James Connolly and James Larkin.

Further incinerator study delay

Incinerator study delay 
Infant mortality rates higher near some sites 

From Big Issue in the North magazine of 13-19 July 

There has been a further delay to a major study on the impact of municipal waste incinerator emissions on infant mortality rates. 
Health Protection England, now Public Health England (PHE), first promised such a study in 2003 but it was not until 2011 that research began by a team from the Small Area Health Statistics Unit (SAHSU) at Imperial College London. 
The study is examining 22 municipal waste incinerators (MWI), including the ones at Bolton, Grimsby and Kirklees districts, where infant mortality rates remain historically higher than regional and national averages. 
It was envisaged that preliminary results would be available in March 2014 but now Dr Simon Bouffler, of PHE’s Centre for Radiation, Chemical and Environmental Hazards, has said: “Because of the unanticipated complexity in gathering data this has been delayed. 
“SAHSU is aiming to submit the papers from their project to peer-reviewed journals at the end of 2015. It will then be up to the journals when the papers are published, but it is likely to be in early 2016.” 
According to Bouffler the delay is caused by some of the data emissions being unexpectedly held in paper format and difficulty in accessing all the health data because it is stored with different sources. 
In the period since the study started, construction has commenced on more MWIs. Infant mortality levels have also dropped to an all-time low, with 3.8 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2013. Respiratory and cardiovascular disorders accounted for 44 per cent of the 2,686 infant deaths
in England and Wales. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) found that mortality rates were highest amongst groups in routine and manual occupations. 
PHE contends: “MWIs are not a significant risk to public health.” But a major study conducted in Japan in 2004, found a “decline in risk from distance from MWIs for infant deaths”. 
Air pollution 
Critics of MWIs believe that it would have been better if a study had been conducted here before incinerators were given the green light, especially as US studies have also shown that air pollution from industrial sources damage schoolchildren’s health and academic success. 
Michael Ryan of Shrewsbury began examining the health record of incinerators after he considered that the loss of two of his children could have been the result of having lived downwind of an incinerator. When he examined all of London’s wards he found that there were clusters of above average mortality rates around MWIs in Edmonton, Colnbrook, Kings College Hospital and Bermondsey. Ryan also found that death rates in affluent areas such as Chingford Ward Green in Waltham Forest near the Edmonton incinerator were above average. 
The incinerator in Bolton was first opened in 1971 and is sited in the Great Lever ward. That ward is among the six wards in Bolton’s 20 where infant mortality rates are highest, at above 8 deaths per 1,000 live births. Four of Bolton’s other wards with the highest infant mortality are among the seven bordering Great Lever. 
Ryan would like SAHSU to examine these publicly obtainable figures. “Infant mortality is not just about poverty, as the ONS contends,” he said. “It is also about air pollutants. Even as far back as 1914, Dr William A Brend, a lecturer in forensic evidence, found that whilst wages in agricultural areas were notoriously low the infant mortality rates there were below average.” 
Asked if Ryan’s work was being examined as part of its study, a PHE spokesperson said: “Modern and well managed municipal incinerators make only a very small contribution to local concentrations of air pollutants. 
“PHE is not aware of any evidence that requires a change in our position statement.” 

Organise like the women chainmakers at Cradley Heath


Workers' struggles headline at Great Yorkshire Show

Go to:-


Monday, 13 July 2015

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Armed police officer at North East protest

Taken from Big Issue in the North magazine, please buy a copy when you see a seller. 
Armed police officer at North East protest 
Cleveland force says it gives value for money 

Cleveland and Durham Police is undermining the tradition of the British police as an unarmed service, according to an academic expert. 
An officer from the Cleveland and Durham Specialist Operations Firearms Unit was photographed wearing a gun at a recent construction workers protest in Redcar. 
An officer at a later protest then said it was “routine for officers, particularly those on traffic duties, to be wearing guns... because of cuts to the budget.” 
Regulations governing police use of arms in the UK are unclear. It is generally accepted that chief constables have “operational responsibility” for decisions to deploy armed officers. 
The College of Policing identifies examples where a chief constable may authorise the issuing of firearms: to officers on armed response vehicles, protection duties, specific escort duties and prolonged operations where carrying firearms is essential. 
Section 3 of the Criminal Law Act 1967 has been interpreted to mean that minimum force will always be used and consequently that police officers will only wear guns in exceptional circumstances. 
Firearms skills 
The workers protest in Redcar was over pay and recruitment at the site of a new waste incinerator being built by SITA Sembcorp. The protest was peaceful and no arrests were made. 
A Cleveland Police spokesperson cited operational sensitivity when asked how many of their officers might be carrying guns daily. 
“Like all other forces, Cleveland Police has officers who routinely patrol whilst armed,” said the spokesperson. “In order to provide the best value for money in our local communities, these officers are also fully trained in roads policing specific skills so that the force is able to deploy its officers and staff most effectively when the specific firearms skills are not required.” 
The spokesperson claimed there had been no change in the numbers of officers patrolling with firearms. Cuts would not change the deployment of armed officers or those generally on patrol. 
Asked whether the wearing of a gun by a police officer at a construction workers protest was appropriate the spokesperson said: “Whether or not the officer is armed is irrelevant as they were attending in the dual role as roads policing officers.
The deployment of a police officer to this event – armed or otherwise – has been assessed as part of a strategic approach to managing this recurring protest.” 
The acting assistant Chief Constable for Redcar and Cleveland Police, Ciaron Irvine, added: “Cleveland Police deploys officers to incidents on the basis of skills and availability. Early deployment was designed to assess numbers on the protest and its impact on the local road network in the run-up to rush hour. Armed officers from the Cleveland and Durham specialist operations unit were sent to fulfil the task and as the event developed they were replaced by locally based officers coming on duty.” 
‘Where next?’ 
Dr Graham Smith, a senior lecturer in regulation at Manchester University and an expert on policing, said: “Rather than keep their officers on standby in readiness for an incident that requires the attendance of authorised firearms officers Cleveland Police are deploying them on ordinary duties. 
“This significantly undermines the tradition and character of the British police as an unarmed service.” 
Smith said that anyone wanting to legally challenge Cleveland chief constable Jacqui Cheer’s operational decisions would need to seek a judicial review. 
Barry Coppinger, Cleveland Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “Police officer deployment is an operational matter for the chief constable. Therefore it would be not be appropriate for me to comment on where officers are assigned.” 
Tony, one of the Redcar protesters, said: “People were bemused at first but then began asking was it because we had been protesting now for many months. 

“Police officers wearing guns should not be down here. Where will they turn up next?” 

Airlines aerotoxins

Campaigner pushes BA on death rate figures 
Taken from Big Issue in the North magazine. 
A former BA employee who believes many of the airline’s staff are dying prematurely has released a YouTube video showing photos of hundreds who have died recently. 
Cabin supervisor Dee Passon became concerned about her colleagues’ health while working and secretly conducted a survey among airline staff. This revealed high levels of depression, blood pressure, confusion, memory loss and lung cancer. 
When Passon was forced to retire six years ago BA agreed to pay an ill-health pension after accepting a doctor’s diagnosis that she was suffering from aerotoxic syndrome, which safety campaigners argue is the result of organophosphate toxins released into aircraft during flights. But airline companies, the Civil Aviation Authority and the Department for Transport do not believe air quality is below safe levels. 
Passon established the Angel Fleet Public Group Facebook page in 2014. It has over 7,500 members. She asked people who wanted their dead loved ones to be included in a video to send in photos of those who “have transferred to Angel Fleet”. 
Among those featured on Silver Wings Volume 1 are Andrew Barnes, 46, and Amanda Aitken, 30, who died in 2014 and 2011. 
Passon has compiled a list of BA employees who have died prematurely. There were 23 deaths among BA staff in 2014, including Shabila Mahmood, 43, Caroline Goldring, 28, and Captain Jon Latter, 55. 
Three each were the result of suicide and cancer, five of heart attack, one each of pneumonia and an accident. Five could not be determined by the coroner with four currently unknown. 
Passon asked BA for its death rates among its staff. It refused, and also did the same with a similar request from representatives of the British Airlines Stewards and Stewardesses Association. 
Passon’s own calculations suggest that with 15,000 cabin crew and 3,500 pilots the death rate amongst BA staff is 1:804. She approached the Metropolitan Police Service and was told that in 2013 the service had 29,974 active officers and a death rate of 1:1500; almost half that of BA. 
“With the BA staff death rates being almost double than the Metropolitan Police it should be a cause for concern,” said Passon. “The airline company should examine what lies behind these figures, including whether aerotoxins play a part.” 

A BA spokesperson did not dispute Passon’s calculations but said: “There is no evidence to suggest
that working for an airline increases the risk of premature death and the substantial research conducted into questions of cabin air quality has found no evidence that exposure to potential chemicals in the cabin causes long-term ill health.”