Northampton Solidarity Federation held a lively and loud protest and leafletting on Saturday outside Holland and Barratt in Northampton's busy shopping Centre. The protest was against Holland and Barrat's involvement in the Government's workfare scheme, which allows them to use unpaid labour. A number of shoppers were turned away. This was the second time in a month that the store has been targetted.
Re-posted from Johnny Void's blog:
Workfare campaigners staged a lively day of action in South London [on 19th May] following the call out from South London Solidarity Federation.
Snake oil salesmen Holland & Barrett, who have plans to replace around a quarter of their staff with unpaid labour, were the target on a day which also saw actions in Hackney, Brighton and Lincoln.
In Lewisham protesters met in the town centre and thwarted a heavy police and security presence outside Holland & Barrett in the shopping centre by heading to leafy Blackheath instead.
On Saturday 19th May Holland and Barrett once again felt the heat in Brighton and Hove as the Solidarity Federation staged a further picket just a week after the last one. This time we used the opportunity of our monthly tenants’ and workers’ rights stall to target the health food chain in George Street, Hove.
On the 19th of May Thames Valley SolFed coordinated a day of action against Holland & Barrett as part of the national SF anti-workfare campaign. Pickets were held in both Reading & Oxford.
Picketing shops can reap some rich rewards when the cause is as uncontroversial as "this lot force people to work for free." The general crowd response is along the lines of "really, they do that? What a bunch of gits."
That sort of response to a campaign makes a grey day shine for us and makes shop managers very, very angry.
So angry in fact that the Holland and Barrett manager on Mare Street in Hackney, where North London SolFed did its latest picket in the battle to stop Workfare today, insisted on standing in his own doorway to berate us and ended up putting off nearly as many customers as we did.
There were quite a few, Mr Manager. Disapproving faces, Mr Manager. Your bottom line, Mr Manager, walking away because your firm doesn't pay its staff, Mr Manager.
Hull Solidarity Federation took to the streets at 12pm on Saturday 12th May, to protest against Holland and Barrett's participation in the government's "Workfare" program. We provided a visible and persuasive picket, requesting people refuse to shop at Holland and Barrett so long as it continues to use unpaid labour in its shops.
Before doing so, we handed a letter to the staff, indicating that our picket was not aimed at them, but only their employers. Fortunately for them, due to it being a Saturday, there were no "workfare" staff there at the time. We also handed out a number of leaflets to passersby and potential Holland and Barrett customers.
On Saturday 12th May the Solidarity Federation with help from members of Brighton Benefits Campaign held a third picket outside Holland and Barrett’s main North Street store.
We experienced the usual response from the public with about a fifty-fifty split between those continuing to shop there and those who respected the boycott. Some potential customers who went into the shop came out after reading the leaflet to say they had changed their minds. Many passers by offered encouragement to the picketers and others were shocked to discover that an ‘ethical business’ would use unpaid labour.
Saturday 5 May saw joint action against workfare by Liverpool Solidarity Federation and UK Uncut Liverpool. We held pickets at both Holland and Barrett stores as well as at WH Smith and distributed over 1,000 leaflets to the public.
When we arrived at the first Holland and Barrett, the security guard instantly shut the doors on us, fearing an occupation of the shop. Instead, we lined up outside with banners, signs and flags and began distributing leaflets. As well as announcing why we were there over a megaphone, we spoke to members of the public who were curious what we were doing and were largely receptive.
There were one or two people who were hostile to the picket, but they were in the minority. We also had a visit from a security guard who had tried to get pictures of everyone's faces at the last event, but he soon left after being followed around with a camera.
In the lead up to the National Conference on Workfare due to be held in Brighton on 26 May, Brighton SolFed have organised two weekends of pickets against workfare beneficiary Holland & Barrett in Brighton and Hove on the 12th and 19th of May.
We intend to make it clear to Holland & Barrett that as long as they continue to use free labour to cut their staff costs their brand is tainted and the pickets will continue to turn away customers from their stores.
Dressed in prison garb Bristol Solidarity joined the 1st of May Group on their Workfare fashmob. The first action took place inside Primark, stunned shoppers were given leaflets as the Workfare Prisoners helped to stock shelves. Surprisingly security quickly bundled the workfare voulunteers out of the store. It would appear that having free-labour is only acceptable to them if the victims of this modern day slavery are hidden from the public eye.