Tax-dodgers Topshop were the first target, with the Workfare Walk of Shame occupying the front of the Church Street store. We handed out leaflets explaining to shoppers & workers what the store occupation was about, ignoring the calls from management & security to leave. This was all nicely bolstered by chants of “They say Workfare! We say Fair Share!” Management has learnt from the tactics used by UkUncut and others over the years, and quickly started sending punters upstairs to part with their cash. By this time, the police had arrived to ‘escort’ us around for the day. There were plenty of other targets lined-up, so we moved onto McDonalds to cause as much disruption as we could, which was much easier because once inside, the Workfare Walk of Shame blocked access to the tills. Management again tried to remove us from the exploiter’s premises; we refused to move, all the while engaging with the public regarding the use of unpaid workers by McDonalds.
From McDonalds we walked to Primark and set up occupation inside the store, blocking the main entrance. Once more we were met with befuddled management demanding we exit the store. This time we made a demand of our own, challenging the store to give a statement that “No unpaid workers are being used at this store”. Naturally, management wasn’t going to do any of that, so we eventually moved to our next target, vowing to further disrupt the Primark store over the coming months.
Tesco was our final target. Once inside, we blocked the main entrance of the store. Management were aggressive and with the number of protesters reduced, after 30 minutes eventually decided to leave after talking at length to shoppers & workers about Workfare, and Tesco using free labour alongside full-time full-paid workers. As we were leaving, one of the security guards shouted at a protestor, “Get back to your own country, you Polish twat!” This racist remark was considered by Merseyside Police to be, apparently, “just an opinion”. Security firms in Liverpool have so far this year attacked protesters ( see video: http://youtu.be/xEqQUkueg50 ) on a number of occasions and this racist remark just adds to the picture of fascism and racism that the security industry is housing. Add to this, daft comments from Merseyside Police, and their attacks on protesters in Liverpool, we have to be organized effectively for what will prove to be a packed year of actions.
Workfare, disguised within austerity, is currently one of a series of attacks on the working classes. We must keep up the pressure on profit-making companies using unpaid workers and on providers, such as A4e and Avanta in Liverpool, who implement Workfare schemes. Not only does Workfare threaten those in poverty with poverty; but it also jeopardizes those already in paid work by undermining the minimum wage.
Boycott Workfare! Abolish Workfare! Combat Workfare! Bring it down once and for all!
Further Anti-Workfare action takes place this Saturday 5th of May, this time organised by UK Uncut Liverpool & Liverpool Solidarity Federation. Visit Facebook event for more details: https://www.facebook.com/events/388759674490817/