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.

Up to half of the store’s customers turning away will have made a significant impact on sales during the two hours we were there.  In fact the success of these pickets on a local level was shown by the reaction of the store manager who resorted to desperate measures to counteract the effects of the boycott.  He began by telling us that if we called on people to boycott the shop or tell them not to shop there he could call the police and they would move us on.  Naturally, this only encouraged more calls to boycott Holland and Barrett.  Two police officers duly turned up, only to chat for a minute and then walk away.

Whilst the police on this occasion respected our right to picket the store, Brighton’s city centre ‘ambassadors’ called in by the store manager showed no such respect and made it their business to harass the picket as much as they could.  Not content to draw imaginary lines on the pavement outside the door that we could not step over, one ‘ambassador’ made sure to intervene in any discussion we had with potential customers, telling them that in fact people on workfare were not unpaid because they got their Jobseekers Allowance.  At one point there were four of them on the door, defending Holland and Barrett’s right to exploit the unemployed for profit.

The message is clear: the boycott is starting to have an effect in Brighton and elsewhere so now is the time to step up the pressure even more.  Holland and Barrett will get another visit from Brighton Solfed on the 19th May.

If you want to support the campaign or join a picket, email us at brighton[AT]solfed.org.uk

BOYCOTT Holland and Barrett!