As part of the national week of action against workfare, members of Liverpool Solidarity Federation, the Anarchist Federation and various comrades held a picket at the city-centre offices of A4e, with the aim of keeping the pressure on these exploiters, while a communications blockade was simultaneously carried out by allies all over the country.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Today (12 June), around a dozen anti-workfare activists joined a picket of the Liverpool offices of A4e, called by Liverpool Solidarity Federation. At the same time, hundreds of people took part in our communications blockade of the same office - effectively jamming up the phone and fax lines for a considerable portion of the day.
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.
Last year, around 50 people attended a public meeting hosted by Liverpool Solidarity Federation to discuss and commemorate the 1911 Liverpool general transport strike. The audio recording of the event is now finally available on Youtube accompanied by various images.
- The first speaker was local historian Frank Carlyle who regularly appears on BBC Radio Merseyside. Frank talked about Liverpool's growth as a port city and the development of its working-class. Watch the video.
The second speaker was a SolFed member who had done extensive research into the events of 1911, some of the key figures involved in the strike and the influence of revolutionary trade unionism. Watch the video.
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.