|Demonstrators leaving Whitechapel en route to Bold Street|
The term 'workfare' is being used to describe a number of government programmes, and the upshot of them all is that unemployed people are compelled to give away their labour for free - often to extremely profitable corporations - or risk losing their barely subsistence level benefits. This is an attack on all working class people, because it exerts downward pressure on wages, and encourages the replacement of paid jobs with unpaid schemes, contributing to a recessionary spiral of unemployment.
Our first target was health food outlet Holland & Barrett's Whitechapel shop. In spite of its 'ethical' branding, H&B are seeking to augment last year's £44 million pre-tax profits by exploiting free labour. Few crossed our picket line during the hour we were there, with far more taking leaflets and discussing workfare with us. After maybe half an hour a couple of cops appeared, and they talked with the store manager before proceeding to watch from a distance
|Activists 'occupied' Argos and Tesco|
Our final stop was Tesco, who feel the need not to pay workers despite making £3.9 billion last year. When some of our number went inside, the manager became visibly upset, and asked Liverpool's finest if it would be okay to lock them in! Having presumably been warned that this might be legally dubious, he backed away from that threat. But the Bold Street branch had very few paying customers over the next hour, as again, many more seemed to take note of our demonstration.
It was a successful afternoon's work, but the fight goes on! Liverpool activists are gearing up for a month of actions, in the run-up to the early July national week of action called by the Boycott Welfare conference. If you can't make it to physical pickets, communications blockades are also being planned. Please get involved in any way you can, because an injury to one truly is an injury to all!