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12th of May Action - Holland and Barrett Workfare Picket.

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.

Holland and Barrett feels the pressure in Brighton

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.

Action against workfare continues in Liverpool

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.

Keeping up the pressure: the fight against workfare continues

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.

Workfare flashmob targets Bristol 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.

Solent Solfed Members Join Two Pickets Last Week

Here are two members write ups of the pickets Solent SF were involved with last week!

Protest picket of the Communication Workers Union.

Report on 31 March workfare pickets in Brighton and Hastings

On Saturday Brighton SolFed held three separate pickets of Holland and Barratt stores in Brighton and in Hastings in response to their continued use of unpaid workfare placements to reduce staff costs. Across the country SolFed locals and other groups took part in a day of action to highlight the use of workfare by high street companies.

The national day of action was called by SolFed to coincide with the International Workers’ Association (of which SolFed is the British section) days of action which included the general strike in Spain called by our Spanish section, the CNT.

Kilburn Anti-Workfare picket a success

Last Saturday, the North London Solidarity Federation was joined by members of the Industrial Workers of the World and Boycott Workfare for a mid-day picket of the Holland and Barrett in Kilburn, North West London.

Picketers numbered over twenty in total and came prepared with flags, hi-vis jackets, and various banners decrying the exploitative nature of the government's various workfare schemes. Nearly 1000 leaflets were handed out over the course of the action and throughout the picket prospective customers were persuaded to do their shopping elsewhere.

Public response was overwhelmingly positive. One member of the public even stopped by for half and hour to help us do some leafleting. Others took the opportunity to go into the store and express their dissatisfaction directly to the Holland and Barrett manager on duty at the time.

Manchester SolFed support IWA days of action

We had hoped to support the CNT and the general strike in Spain only to find that the Spanish Consulate has been closed. On the 30th, we leafleted the Holland and Barret shop we were going to picket the following day and had a chat with the workers in the shop. We leafleted then went on to leaflet the shops close by again talking to workers. We then went on to leaflet shops round the centre of Manchester.

On 31 we picketed a Holland and Barret shop in the centre of Manchester. We gave out several hundred leaflets. The picket followed the usual routine: manager came out, asked us to leave, we refused. She then called police a bit of a heated exchange and so on. One person who had just finished a Warkfare programme stopped to have a go at the police and went into the shop to have a go at the manager.  

Combating workfare in Liverpool (31/3/2012)

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.

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