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 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.
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 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.
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.
May 1st was, of course, Mayday, International Workers’ Day, held in memory of the six anarchists executed after the Haymarket riot, a protest in Chicago way back in 1886 over the 8 hour working day. Despite it falling on a normal working day this year, both London SF branches called an anti-Workfare roving picket through central London, as well as attending an electricians’ picket and, least interestingly, the official, Trade Union Congress (TUC) march.
The electricians’ picket – called by the Sparks rank and file group – was in response to employers trying to block rank and file activists from even attending the ongoing negotiations over the JIB agreement. We braved the bleak, grey early morning for a couple of hours befire retreating to a
café for a break and a caffeine fix.
The first of May is international workers day. A day where we commemorate those six anarchists of Chicago who were convicted and executed after the Haymarket riot, a protest in 1886 over the 8 hour day.
This year mayday started early for some of us; with a morning demo at the Shard in London, called by the sparks rank and file group. This was in response to employers trying to block rank and file activists from even attending the on-going negotiations over the JIB agreement. We stuck it out for an hour or two in the bleak weather, then retreated back to the café for a break and a caffeine fix.