Anarchists and trade unionists rattle Iain Duncan Smith in Bootle

Today (Friday 29 June), Iain Duncan Smith went to Bootle in what was planned as a low-key visit to Department for Work and Pensions offices. Instead it was the scene of a lively picket where local anarchists joined trade unionists from the area to oppose the capinet minister's arrival.

Obviously none of the ministers from the current government are popular with most working class people. Duncan Smith deserves particular attention because of his role in workfare - including lying in parliament about the "success" of the schemes.

A4e Liverpool feel the impact of another picket and communications blockade

On Tuesday 26 June, Liverpool Solidarity Federation called a picket and a communications blockade against A4e in Liverpool. Both were well attended, with up to a dozen people joining in the afternoon picket whilst countless people from around the country jammed up phone and fax lines throughout the day.

From the morning, we were getting reports that the communications blockade was having its desired effect. People were hung up on as soon as they even mentioned the work programme, re-directed to central phone lines and met with exasperated staff on the other end of the line. By the afternoon, there were huge delays in answering calls and the fax machine was switched off - no doubt due to the huge volume of literature, complaints and sheer nonsense clogging it up.

Liverpool maintains the momentum against workfare

Another Saturday, another round of direct action against workfare providers in Liverpool. Members of Liverpool Solidarity Federation were joined by other local anarchists and activists to picket Holland & Barrett and Argos in the City Centre. The lively pickets saw 600 leaflets distributed and a number of shoppers turned away from both stores.

When we arrived at the main Holland & Barrett store in town, the security guard immediately got on the phone to the police. When they arrived, they took no action against us, but a complaint by the manager that our picket had abused staff (a claim which was entirely untrue) suggests that the continued pressure is starting to have an effect. Whilst the response from the public varied from largely ambivalent to positive and supportive, local security were clearly extremely hostile.

Maintaining the pressure on Holland & Barrett in Brighton

Brighton Solidarity Federation and the Brighton Benefits Campaign picketed the London Road branch of Holland & Barrett this morning (23rd June). We had a warm reception from the public, giving out several hundred leaflets during the three hours we were there and turning at least half of their trade away. 

So many potential customers decided to shop elsewhere that a member of staff came out and started a loud argument, accusing us of having physically blocked people from coming in to the shop. It was unfortunate that his rant was based on the fact that customers had been ‘in the doorway’ before turning away – proving that they found Holland & Barrett’s use of workfare far more off-putting than our picket.

Anti-workfare activity at Bootle Jobcentre Plus

Today, activists including Liverpool Solidarity Federation members held an informational picket at Jobcentre Plus in Bootle. There, we handed out advice leaflets and Solfed workfare pamphlets to claimants, alongside more general leaflets to the public.

In all, we stayed there for about an hour and a half. The response we had from claimants and members of the public alike was overwhelmingly positive. Most took our leaflets gratefully, whilst more than a few people stopped to chat about workfare and our campaign against it. Several trade unionists from the local council also promised to take the information back to their branches as it affected their staff as well.

Asda hit by anti-workfare picket in Liverpool

On Saturday 16th June, members of Liverpool Solidarity Federation, along with members of the Anarchist Federation and local unaffiliated activists, held a picket of the Asda store on Smithdown Road in Wavertree as part of a series of actions to protest against and to raise awareness of Asda’s use of workfare.

The picket began at the main entrance, at the opposite end of the store to Smithdown Road. This entrance gets the most foot traffic as the trolleys and car park are adjacent. We began to hand out leaflets and engage with customers. Security and management stood in the doorway of the store but did not challenge us. After no more than five minutes, two police cars and full van arrived and officers immediately surrounded the picket and began hassling individual picketers, ordering some to remove masks and hoods.

Lively picket kicks off hectic month in Liverpool anti-workfare campaign

On Saturday 9 June, Liverpool Solidarity Federation called action against workfare in the City Centre. Upwards of 40 people, including members of Solfed, the Anarchist Federation and the wider anarchist community in the city, took part. We were also pleased to have local musicians on board, providing a ska/punk soundtrack to the day's activities.

Hull SF picket Holland and Barrett (26/05/12)

Hull Solidarity Federation have picketed Holland and Barrett again, on the 26th of May. From 11am to 2pm we handed out leaflets and struck up conversations with passersby and potential customers, informing them about use of 'workfare' and encouraging them not to shop there. Handing out the same leaflets we made for last time, we successfully turned away a fair few potential shoppers, whilst we estimate that our presence in official hi-visibility Solidarity Federation picket vests deterred further amounts of people through their sheer brightness in the mid day sun.