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Cymdeithas members began discussions with the company about its delivery by the Welsh during the 00s, and although the conversation at that time was a very positive one, Morrisons abandoned the promises they made.
Things went quiet for a while as other priorities took the society's attention, and Welsh customers had to settle for just a few bilingual signs here and there in their stores.
The discussion erupted again several months ago now, when Morrisons staff refused to dispense a prescription because it was written in Welsh. As we're all aware by now, this caused much distress to the Mann family who were being prevented from receiving medication for their child because Morrisons systems were unable to deal with Welsh as it can with English, even though this was in an area where most people speak Welsh.
As well as holding a large rally outside the shop in Bangor, Language Society wrote to the company and demanded a meeting to discuss the issue of prescription and indicate the number of calls that would ensure fairness to other elementary Welsh and customers in Wales.
After months of procrastination Morrisons has agreed to meet with members of Cymdeithas. As we write this, their Rights Group has once again initiated discussions with the company to secure rights for Welsh speakers.
But we agree that we can't continue to accept pledges over months and years and once again being offered only crumbs. While the discussions continue, we will be preparing for a national boycott of the company that will commence on December 1st 2014. Preparation will include educating people about the history and spreading the word, and we will proceed to collect names of some of those who will be committed to the boycott in December if Morrison decides to proceed with its existing policies discriminating against Welsh.
The purpose of the proposed boycott is a frank refusal to comply with a company which is now making large profits in Wales, but who refuses to treat the Welsh language fairly.
We stress that we don't mean this as a threat. We're not just stamping our feet in anger or throwing toys from the pram, this is just a simple decision to reject the capitalist system that refuses to commit to treating Welsh citizens with respect and social justice. To continue to give our business to Morrisons amounts to justifying and excusing their reckless behavior towards our language.
Continuing to go along with and collaborate with injustice is as bad as perpetrating it ourselves.
The boycott preparations over the coming months will help company officials consider very seriously the way they operate in Wales and encourage them to reconsider their policies, for fairness to the Welsh language. If this really happenns, there will be no need for a boycott – our collective energies will have succeeded in turning the hearts and heads of officers who had never, perhaps, have paid full consideration to the linguistic situation in Wales.
Why Morrisons? Aren't all the big supermarkets at fault?
We agree that every major supermarket company in Wales needs to implement policies that support Welsh. But we also concede that we can't disperse our energies in all directions and still be effective. As noted above, there have been discussions for some years with Morrisons but every time, the company reneges on its word.
The recent prescription incident also highlighted Morrisons as a company disinterested in treating Welsh customers with respect or fairness (no apology clear, direct apology, came from the company following the incident).
We recognize that some of our members renounce supermarkets completely already because of the community and economic damage they cause locally and globally, through exploitative trading practices and poverty jobs. The proposed boycott will not present such a problem for them.
But what about Government, and lobbying?
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It is true that the Government has a big role to play in ensuring Welsh language services to the people of Wales, but the Government has shown little desire to tackle the private sector.
This has manifested itself in the Welsh Language Measure 2011 itself where our leaders in the Bay refused to include large companies such as Morrisons. Proposed language standards will not affect the huge companies that make millions of pounds every year in Wales.
Some of the arguments for not tackling the big capitalist firms are ridiculous, to say the least. Do we really believe that the Morrisons would leave Wales if they are forced by legislation to give fair play to Welsh? Seriously? Is every large company going to just leave Wales? Not at all. The cost of offering complete services in Welsh is pennies compared to the huge profits being made every day in Wales.
Of course, Cymdeithas will continue to lobby and negotiate and urge the Government to act in this area but now it is crystal clear that we can not rely on our politicians to ensure justice in this area. We have to somehow take the power back into our own hands by continuing to press the devolved system to feed our need for justice.
What happens next?
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Rights Group officials will meet with senior officers at Morrisons and discuss our demands, as expressed in a letter to the company earlier this year (details below). In the meantime 1 December 2014 is set as the start date of the national boycott and we will work in partnership with an extensive network in Wales in order to gather the names of the public will be willing to renounce Morrisons services if necessary on that date. There will be a discussion at our General Meeting to discuss the situation, and decide to go ahead with the start of the boycott or not (based on Morrison's actions over the coming months).
What do we want them to do?
• ensure that all signs in their stores in Wales are bilingual.
(We note with great concern since the Bangor store's renovation, that English language only signs have been installed in place of the bilingual ones that were there before)
• bilingual self-service checkouts
• an employment policy and recruitment campaign that will ensure sufficient staff are able to deal with customers in Welsh in every store in Wales
• clear bilingual labels on all Morrisons brand products
• bilingual marketing and promotional material (eg leaflets, advertisements, temporary signs)
• bilingual announcements in all stores in Wales