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.
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.
On Saturday 28 April, Liverpool Antifascists picketed Quiggins Attique, owned by National Front mayoral candidate Peter Tierney.
Anti-fascists held a banner aloft over the shop front between 10am and 12.30pm, whilst giving out leaflets and speaking to passers by. Tierney, previously a member of the British National Party before defecting to the National Front, has a prior conviction for attacking a trade unionist with a camera tripod. He was also involved in another fracas in December 2010 which saw his brother charged with assault for punching an anti-fascist.
The response from members of the public was overwhelmingly positive. The only exception was a man who lives above the shop, who tried to threaten the picket with a large dog and a chain wrapped around his hand. He soon fled when the threat failed.
Members of Liverpool Solidarity Federation were joined on pickets by other activists today as part of the Solfed national day of action against workfare. We distributed around 800 leaflets across three sites. Our first target was an ASDA store in Wavertree before returning to the city centre in order to target two branches of Holland and Barrett.
As we began our ASDA protest the Police were already in attendance, but after we answered ‘no’ to their fiendishly subtle question, “Are you lot here to cause a disturbance”, they generally left us alone. That was until the store manager and several security staff came out in an attempt to intimidate us. Some of the security staff actually physically pushed customers out of our way to prevent us giving them our leaflets.
As part of the international week of action against Ryanair, on Friday 16 March Liverpool Solidarity Federation members joined John Foley of the Ryanair Don't Care Campaign for pickets in the City Centre. The targets of our action were a bank and a solicitors who are complicit in the budget airline's recruitment scamming.
The Allied Irish Bank formerly provided 3500€ loans to probationary cabin crew for their training with Ryanair, though they stopped this practice in 2010 under pressure from the Ryanair Don't Care campaign. More recently, however, it has come to light that they are still sending threatening letters to terminated staff, warning them to pay up outstanding fees (for training they did not finish!) or face bankruptcy.
The International Workers Association has called days of action against austerity, exploitation, and oppression on 29, 30 and 31 March. As part of this, on Saturday 31 March, Solidarity Federation locals will be taking action against workfare.
Following on from the succesful day of action initiated by Liverpool Uncut on 3 March, our aim is to spread the action beyond the City Centre and get claimants and local communities more involved.
Our action will take place in Wavertree, at a target to be announced on the day. There, as last time, we intend to engage staff directly and encourage them to organise against their employer's use of workfare as well as encouraging the public not to give their business to the target.
Glasgow Solidarity Network has demonstrated how direct action gets the goods with a successful conclusion to its first fight. Two members of the Glasgow Anarchist Federation and their flatmate discovered that it is illegal in Scotland for letting agents to charge tenants fees apart from rent and deposits. Their letting agent, Martin & Co, had charged the three of them them a substantial £250 “check-in” fee before they had even paid their deposit. They first submitted an official complaint but received only the receipt listing the fees they had paid as a reply.
Leaflet distributed by Liverpool Solfed members outside the Royal Liverpool Hospital.
At last night's National Delegate Council, Solidarity Federation delegates also agreed to endorse the international week of action called by the Ryanair Don't Care Campaign.
Liverpool Solidarity Federation had voted in December to support the week of action, issuing a statement which call on other Solidarity Federation locals, the International Workers' Association, and all who support the struggle of workers against exploitative employers, to take the following action:
Support the call-out for an International Week of Action against Ryanair, on the 12-18 March
Hold pickets of airports where Ryanair put on flights, offices of Ryanair and agencies / recruitment fairs through which they hire staff
Today, PCS members in HM Revenue & Customs took strike action over the threat of privatisation. In Bootle, a member of Liverpool Solidarity Federation and PCS activist put the following statement - calling for a national week of action against privatisation - to an assembly of striking workers, where it was approved unanimously.
HM Revenue & Customs are engaging in a 12 month pilot with two private contractors, Sitel and Teleperformance, to handle calls alongside existing staff at contact centres in Bathgate and Lilyhall. The department claims that this is merely to look at ways they can address call backlogs during peak times. However, this is a transparent attack on the jobs, terms and conditions of PCS members.