Monthly Archives: June 2014

Welfare Advice training

We are in the process of finalising some dates to deliver welfare advice training in the Durham Community Support Centre, but in the meantime anyone who is interested is welcome to attend the following:

DCC Welfare Rights are running free training available to any staff and volunteers working in Co Durham.

The training is 1 day courses on Employment and Support Allowance and the new Personal Independence Payment. Dates of training are:

Introduction to ESA (Employment And Support Allowance)

24 June, Boardroom Merrington House, Spennymoor


1 July, Healthworks, Easington

Personal Independence Payment(PIP)

8 July, Common Room, University Hospital North Durham


15 July, Common Room, Bishop Auckland General Hospital

Places can be booked via the following link where you will also find further details:


Support the South Yorkshire Freedom Riders

Support the Freedom Riders

Unite Community will be supporting a demonstration in Sheffield on the 7th July – see here for full details – when two “Freedom Rider” protestors will be appearing at the magistrates court for participating in a peaceful protest. Accusations have also been made of police brutality as five police officers were caught on camera manhandling him roughly. Here’s some background to the protests and what has now happened.

Making their voices heard

Under the coalition’s austerity agenda, disabled and pensioners have been amongst those hit particularly hard, and due to their age and disability they often find it more difficult to fight back and make their voice heard.

However, in South Yorkshire they have been doing just that. A group calling themselves the Freedom Riders have been protesting against the ending of transport concessions for pensioners and disabled in the Region, holding a series of vocal demonstrations and taking direct action by boarding trains en-mass without paying a fare.

As these protests have gone on, they have seen an increasingly large police presence, with large numbers of police either kettling protestors on platforms or preventing them from getting on to the platform. To their great credit, the protestors have not been deterred and have continually adopted new tactics to carry on their protests.

An excellent report on the protests is available from our Colleagues in the Barnsley Community Support Centre on their website:

Standing up against the State

We all know when we attend protests that the ‘friendly’ police presence is just an illusion. The miner’s strike and 2011 student demonstrations showed that when real opposition is growing, the state is more than willing to unleash their power and use the police to intimidate, obstruct and even assault anyone who happens to be on the other side of the dividing line, who is part of a group that the state is intent on making a victim of.

Anyone who thinks that things will be different just because the victims in this case just happen to be disabled and pensioners would be very mistaken. At the Freedom Riders’ most recent demonstration in Sheffield, it became very clear that the police were willing to ride roughshod over anyone who dared to protest, including manhandling pensioners and knocking over people with disabilities. This report in The Mirror gives some details and has a video of the police treatment of one of those arrested, and The Sheffield Star follows up their initial report and video on the arrests with some comments from both protestors and police

Freedom Rider Arrest

Freedom of the Press

As you may have picked up from the Sheffield Star article, there was a further video of the protests and arrests but the police ordered it to be destroyed, threatening the reporter with arrest if he didn’t do so. More details of that story are in The Guardian:

Yet again, as seems to happen so often when they don’t have a legitimate reason to arrest or silence somebody, the police have used the cover of Anti-Terrorism legislation to do so. So there we have it – if you try and report on the state response to legitimate peaceful protest, you can be branded as a potential terrorist!

Luckily in this age of technology, a lot of people have mobile phones and somebody else had filmed the arrest so the police didn’t succeed in covering their tracks on this occasion – but how many other times must they have got away with ordering videos to have been deleted in the past?

Next steps for the Freedom Riders

If anything, the actions of the police have made the Freedom Riders even more determined to continue their fight, and to bring even more along to future protests. They are taking the view that the state is running so scared of you that they resort to arresting pensioners and knocking over people with disabilities, you must be doing something right!

Plans are being put in place for a huge demonstration of support for those arrested when they are due in court on the 7th July – we will post full details of that as soon as they are finalised – and the group are meeting to discuss what next for the Freedom Ride campaign.

One thing is clear – they are not going to give up until they achieve more concessions and Unite Community in South Yorkshire and across the country are committed to supporting them in whatever way we can.

You should to, as their fight against austerity measures is your fight as well.

30 Years On: Strike Anniversary Reunion Parade and Rally in Barnsley

This Saturday the NUM headquarters in Barnsley will host a march and rally to mark the 30th anniversary of the Miners’ Strike.

At 10.30am, visitor will have the opportunity to visit the historic Miners’ Hall, before marching through Barnsley, proudly displaying a number of the union’s banners. This will be followed by a rally in Churchfields Park, with speakers including Chris Kitchen, Women Against Pit Closures and Owen Jones.

From 3pm a buffet will be served at Gawber Road Working Mens’ Club, followed by live music from the Dublin Raiders from 7pm.

The event will also serve to launch the new website ‘Cleaner Coal’, that marks a joint venture between the NUM and Unite with the aim to unite workers in the energy sector. The new website can be viewed here:

View the Flyer.

The full itinerary:

10.30am Visit Historic Miners’ Hall – Exhibition – Tea & Coffee
12 noon March & Rally at Churchfields Park

Enjoy Music & Refreshments at Gawber Road WMC (S75 2PR)

3.00pm Live Brass Band “Barnsley Brass” and Buffet
7.00pm Till late live music “Dublin Raiders” and Buffet

Download the Event Flyer for 28 June 2014

28 June

Unite Community at the London Demo

Unite Community members from across the Region were adding their numbers to hte 50,000 people who attended the People’s Assembly demonstration against austerity in London on Saturday.

Even though the march started from oputside the BBC’s headquarters, they completely ignored it until a flood of complaints were made about the lack of coverage. ANyone would think that the Establishment didn’t want people to know about it!

Obviously, more effective and imaginative ways of protest need to be considered in the future to get their attention. Suggestions in the comments please!





Images of the Past – Sheffield 10 July

You are invited to the official opening of Images of the Past – The Miners’ Strike exhibition at the Harland Café, 72 John Street, Sharrow, Sheffield S2 4QU on Thursday 10th July at 6pm to 9pm.

This is an exhibition of some of the many images taken by Sheffield photographer Martin Jenkinson, who died in June 2012, marking the 30th Anniversary of the 1984 – 85 Miners’ Strike. It commemorates the part he played in the strike as the photographer for the NUM paper the Yorkshire Miner.

The iconic images, some of which have not been seen until now, are from the book ‘Images of the Past – The Miners’ Strike’ which was released in March this year. The book was written by Mark Metcalfe and Mark Harvey, with the images contributed by me (Martin’s daughter) and his wife Edwina on behalf of Martin. I am pleased to say Mark Metcalf has agreed to speak about Martin and his work during the strike on the night.

If you’re not able to come on July 10th please come and see the exhibition which will run though out July at the Harland. Info for opening times and location can be found here

If you would like to attend or know of someone else who might like to, please can you let me know as I need to inform the venue of how many we will be expecting.

Hope to see you there.


Durham Miners Gala 2014 – Join us there

Durham Unite Community will be marching to the Gala with our splendid new banner (see post below) for the 130th Durham Miners gala on the 12th July.

All Unite Community members are asked to come along and march with the banner. We will be forming part of the main Unite delegation, and will be meeting around the Railway Viaduct between 8:00 and 8:30 on the Saturday morning.

We will alos be leafletting on the day, as well as running a stall so anyone who is able to help out with either of those please contact us so we can arrange rotas etc.

DMA Gala Poster pic

Click here to download a Gala poster

Art, History and progress

Trade union banners are heroic examples of popular art, giant swaying sails of colour, a tribute to the cause of labour. Starting from the emergent craft trade unions of the early nineteenth century they present a telling visual history of working class struggle and progress. Nowhere does this history burn brighter than at the Durham Miners’ Gala, which is fast re-emerging as the biggest annual trade union event in Britain.

Which is why, following the successful start-up of the Durham Miners’ Association (DMA) and Unite Community support centre at Redhills, Durham UNITE Community is proud to be, with the backing of the DMA, launching its own banner. The unveiling takes place on 10 July 2014 at the Premier of the RedLadder Theatre Company Play: “We’re not going back.”

Incredible generosity from many Unite branches and members has made the banner possible. The eye catching design, which results from collaborative work between older and younger activists, recognises the new methods of campaigning by groups like UK Uncut, Occupy and the People’s Assembly.

Davy Hopper, DMA general secretary, said: “This banner will mark the 30th anniversary of our national strike – a strike where Thatcher sought to destroy our communities. Unfortunately for the Tories we are still here and still fighting – this banner will reflect that.”

Mark Metcalf

Ps Anyone wanting to find out more about Trade Union Banners should get hold a copy of BANNER BRIGHT
by John Gorman.


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