Archive for June, 2013|Monthly archive page

Striking refuse workers in Brighton and Hove

Bins1Brighton and Hove refuse workers started a week-long strike on Friday (14 June) to defend their wages against a cut of up to £4000 as a result of a pay review by the Council. I am perplexed by this.

The refuse collectors have been working to rule over the past few weeks and the uncollected rubbish is noticeable (see below). Coastal towns suffer particularly as the gulls are constantly scavenging. But that is not for the refuse workers who, by definition, earn relatively low wages for their ‘unskilled’ but essential work.

What is going on? It is clear that the Council sought to bust the strike using agency workers. The leader of theRubbish_June2013 Council – a Green – has withdrawn this threat after protests within and without of his party – including Brighton’s Green MP, Caroline Lucas. At first, I thought the strike was purely about austerity cuts – managing a budget being squeezed by declining Central Government grants and limited scope for local tax raising. But seemingly not. It is about ‘equality’. As one observer put it, the policy that led to the cut was “a noble attempt to equalise pay between male and female staff leading to up to £95 a week income reductions for the (largely male) CityClean workers” (Josiah Mortimer, http://tinyurl.com/kv6bea4). Equalising pay down is neither progressive nor right.

The GMB union, which represents the refuse workers, reports the origins of the strike thus: “The dispute began in January when the Council’s Green Party leader, Jason Kitcat, gave full authority to its £150,000 Chief Executive, Penny Thompson, to negotiate and implement a revised pay and allowances package without any recourse to councillors. This led to a final offer being made in April, which included cuts of up to £4,000 a head from some of the council’s lowest paid employees.” (See more at: http://union-news.co.uk/2013/06/brightons-bin-men-begin-week-long-strike/#sthash.2YLfD9oB.dpuf).

Bins2In my small way, I want to lend my support to the refuse workers. I am a former member of the Greens in Brighton and Hove. I left the party on a point of principle regarding Caroline Lucas’s nomination as the candidate for the parliamentary seat of Brighton Pavilion which she went on to win. In light of these events, I am pleased to see her on the picket line and in solidarity.

Donations  to the fighting fund can be made from the following link: http://www.gmb-southern.org.uk/no-to-green-cuts-at-brighton-hove-city-council/

Pictures:
http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/16640

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New crop of cigarette advertisements

Gauloises_June2013Cigarette advertisers have finally launched their summer campaigns. Four are now visible on the streets of Munich. Galloises (pictured left), L&M (below right), John Player Special (below left) and Lucky Strike (below right).

The new Galloises campaign is not new at all. It continues to align smoking with the good urban – Parisien – life. Like its predecessor (see post 5 June 2012) there is leisure, urban greenery and attractive young people. Only one of them smokes. The emphasis continues with the ‘natural’ sense of the product and that it is without additives.

L&M_June2013Meanwhile, the L&M brand pursues two distinct approaches. First, and similar to Galloises, the natural line (right). The greenery is there, there are no additives, the packaging is recycled. Surely one should try them? Compelling, don’t you think?

L&M_July13However, that may not be compelling enough. So, in parallel, L&M have the good value approach (left). A big choice and a good price. Presumably these do have additives at no extra cost?

John Player Special continues with the ‘Just Free’ theme. Previously in this campaign, three young people stride forward fromJustFree2 the shackles of ordinary life towards cancer (see post 23 March 2013). The latest edition has a lone young man jumping over these exact same shackles.

20130730_101254And not to be outdone – or maybe an afterthought – women can jump over them, too.

A winning campaign if you ask me.

And finally, Lucky Strike. What is going on here (right)?

luckytrikeLucky_strike2_July13The strapline reads – assuming my translation works again – Almost as good as the original – with the ‘almost as good as’ struck out. Luckily, no doubt.

There are two more in this series – ‘taste the difference’ (left) and ‘taste is everything’ (right). In advertising terms, it is a bit of a mystery how these are Lucky_strike3_July13supposed to achieve customers. Is it something about making the viewer work a little to get the point? Or is it that they are seen to be clever?

Echt! As they say.

Buying rail tickets online in the UK

TicketFriday last was a bit of a challenge on Southern Railway – there seemed not to be any staffed ticket offices on the stations that I visited and a number of ticket machines were also out of order. I intended to travel to Gatwick Airport on Thameslink (First Capital Connect) – never a good idea to travel without a ticket. So I went online and bought a ticket for the journey. When using online booking sites – in my case Southernrailway.com – one has to designate a machine from which to receive the ticket after purchase. I did this, only to find that the ticket machine was not working.

I arrived at Gatwick Airport and sought guidance from a ticket inspector at the gate. I showed him the receipt for the transaction from my mobile. I asked him how I could get my ticket. Easy, apparently. All that stuff about designated machines is nonsense. Tickets can be printed from any machine on the network. This simple piece of information could have saved me some grief.

Tandem, Summer 2013

Tandem_2013It is nearly tandem-riding time. Having just got it suspended from the ceiling in the garage, it will soon be lowered to take us from Dresden to Rotterdam via Hamburg.

Details to follow. So far the ferry to England from Rotterdam is booked. Dresden to Hamburg will be along the Elbe, paths permitting after the recent flooding which is still affecting this region. Then we take a train from Hamburg to Leer, just on the German side of the border with the Netherlands. From Leer we follow the coastline to Rotterdam.

This year we have a navigation system. I have bought a Garmin 800 and have downloaded the necessary maps from an extraordinary website: http://garmin.openstreetmap.nl

Instructions can be found here: http://www.dcrainmaker.com/2013/05/download-garmin-705800810.html

Killing on the streets of Istanbul

At face value, the violence surrounded a small park (Gezi) in the central district of the European side of the City. The park is being destroyed to make way for a shopping mall and a reconstructed ‘barracks’ that was once on the site. That does not explain the extreme violence meted out to the protesters.

The Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is not known, seemingly, for tolerance and accepting criticism. Secularists in particular seem to be under pressure from the Government. There were violent clashes also on May Day. The Government has also instituted legislation against the consumption of alcohol raising fears of increasing desecularisation, something which has been defended since the establishment of the secular state by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk in 1923. He also seeks to establish an executive presidency by changing the constitution.

I’m struggling to download any pictures, but in the first instance please go to http://imgur.com/q3XfOFf from where I have extracted the following pictures and captions. There are many disturbing images.

 Istanbul_demo_31_5_13
 Istanbul_metro_31_5_13
 Istanbul_demo2_31_5_13
 Istanbul_demo3_31_5_13

Additional video footage can be found here: http://webtv.radikal.com.tr/Turkiye/3653/yorumsuz.aspx
The Guardian newspaper in the UK now has a photo strip of demonstrations in Istanbul and Ankara: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/gallery/2013/jun/02/protests-istanbul-ankara-pictures?picture=409969309#/?picture=409969309&index=0

The Prime Minister seemingly now blames the opposition and ‘social media’ for the unrest.

I travel more than I could ever have thought possible in my youth. I recently visited Istanbul as a tourist. Events there yesterday are shocking in their own terms; the fact that I have been to the city and the locations of the police violence against citizens makes it particularly so. My ignorance about the politics of Turkey and Istanbul reflects the nature of tourism.