Friday, April 05, 2019

Public Sector Workplaces 1981-1991

Southwark Council, Lugard Road Kitchens, 1985

These photographs are from a set of newly scanned black and white negatives I shot in the 1980s, at a time when much of my work was commissioned by the National Union of Public Employees (NUPE) and the National Association of Government Officers (NALGO). Others were taken for the Popular Planning Unit of the Greater London Council, then led by Ken Livingstone, and for a variety of other publications and organisations.  More photos here.

It was a time of rapid change and struggle in the public sector, with the radical “contracting out” privatisation policies of the Thatcher government compounding the impact of the 1970s public spending cuts under Labour that had culminated in the Winter of Discontent of 1978-1979.

Domestics occupy administrator's office, St.Mary's Hospital, 1981

These policies were disastrous both for the workers who provided our services, cutting jobs, pay and conditions in the NHS, local government and elsewhere, and for the service users who relied on them.

They weren't good for photographers either. Claims of commercial confidentiality, and a growing obsession with written consent forms, made access to contracted out workplaces much more difficult to obtain.

More text here.

Contracted out domestic worker, St.Charles Hospital, Notting Hill, 1986
Manchester City Council refuse incinerator, 1987