Saturday, 31 March 2012

Anti-workfare pickets target Asda and Holland & Barrett

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 took the action out into Wavertree for the main portion of the day, before returning to the City Centre as the afternoon wound down.

Assembling at 1pm outside the Asda on Smithdown Road, we were immediately met by police. They had "heard there was something going on either here or by the clock tower," alluding to the current and former meet up points mentioned on the internet. However, they seemed quite content to let us go about our business, and we headed to the store entrance to begin picketing.

Immediately, our presence drew store management, who claimed we were causing an obstruction and were keen to remove us from their premises. We held our ground for about twenty minutes, the hostility of security and management encouraging sympathy from a fair amount of shoppers. Many people were grateful to take our leaflets and offered their support for the action and the wider campaign. However, eventually the police intervened and we were forced to move away.

The entrance on the public highway received much less traffic, since the one at the back was used by those who drove in, but we were still able to cause a stir. We distributed around 600 leaflets and talked to members of the public who remained largely receptive to the cause.

After about two hours outside Asda, we called a halt to the picket and made our way into the City Centre. There, we targeted both outlets of Holland & Barrett, who were the focus of most of today's pickets around the country. We were able to convince a number of people not to shop in the store and drive the point home that companies using unpaid labour to undermine jobs and conditions would not be tolerated.

Today's action was a success. But, ultimately, it was just the beginning. Despite a number of high profile drop outs, workfare remains a serious factor in the ongoing attacks on the working class and this day of action has to mark the start of a sustained campaign. We will be back - in the City Centre, in Wavertree, and in other areas. Not just picketing, but organising - so that until workfare goes away, the opposition to it doesn't either.

A copy of the general anti-workfare leaflet can be downloaded as a PDF here.

A copy of the Holland & Barrett anti-workfare leaflet can be downloaded as PDF here.