On Saturday 19th May Holland and Barrett once again felt the heat in Brighton and Hove as the Solidarity Federation staged a further picket just a week after the last one. This time we used the opportunity of our monthly tenants’ and workers’ rights stall to target the health food chain in George Street, Hove.
We are an anarcho-syndicalist union based in Brighton. We have ongoing campaigns in Hospitality and in Health & social care, but we aim to organise with workers of all industries and none.
Staff and students rallied against planned privatisation of over 10% of campus jobs in Library Square this lunchtime. Staff had come equipped to disrupt a planned 'bidders meeting' with many carrying airhorns, only to discover management had moved the meeting to the Amex stadium across the road. With security and conference staff amongst those facing outsourcing, suggests management don't feel able to hold such meetings on campus without the details leaking out and the threat of disruption.
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.
In the lead up to the National Conference on Workfare due to be held in Brighton on 26 May, Brighton SolFed have organised two weekends of pickets against workfare beneficiary Holland & Barrett in Brighton and Hove on the 12th and 19th of May.
We intend to make it clear to Holland & Barrett that as long as they continue to use free labour to cut their staff costs their brand is tainted and the pickets will continue to turn away customers from their stores.
Around 100 assorted members of far-right groups including the EDL, Infidels, and March For England were vastly outnumbered by up to 1,000 anti-fascists and Brighton residents when they attempted to march yesterday. The route of the march was repeatedly blocked by crowds, and police were only able to force a path through with baton-charges, shields and horses. Despite this, the march was twice forced to divert from its high-profile route down backstreets, where anti-fascists assembled barricades and once again blocked the march.
Organised by our friends at the Brighton Benefits Campaign, Saturday May 26th 11am-5pm at the The Railway Club, 4 Belmont, Brighton BN1 3TF.
Under the guise of ‘helping the unemployed back into work’ the government is rolling out various workfare schemes that will provide free labour for their rich corporate friends. Many charities and even trade unions – who should know better – have been hoodwinked into supporting these schemes.
On Saturday members of Brighton SolFed and Brighton Benefits Campaign picketed the North Street branch of Holland & Barrett. This was the second action in an on-going national campaign against the retailer’s continued use of unpaid workfare placements to reduce staff costs. The picket successfully turned away a large number of potential customers and we engaged many members of the public in discussion of the issues, the majority of whom were sympathetic to our message.
Brighton SolFed joined the Worthing 'Carnival for Choice' organised by Brighton Pro-Choice on Sunday 15th April. The carnival was called as a counter-demonstration against the Jubilee Church, backers of the 'Abort67' group who have been harassing and intimidating women at the British Pregnancy Advisory Service clinic in Brighton.
The evangelical Jubilee Church meets in a school building on Sundays as they have been refused permission to operate their building on an industrial estate as a church. The carnival attracted upwards of 75 people, who formed a lively picket of the main entrance, before splitting into two groups to cover the entrance and exit as church members left. Chants of 'whose choice? our choice!', 'abort your support for Abort67' and 'shame on you for harassing women' rang out.
Next Sunday (15th April) Brighton Solidarity Federation will be supporting the Carnival for Choice! in Worthing.
Carnival for Choice! is part of Brighton Pro Choice’s ongoing campaign against the anti-choice group Abort67. The group, based around a right-wing Christian church in Worthing, often protest outside the Brighton BPAS clinic. They are known for using US-style anti-choice tactics including photographing people entering the clinic and banners featuring graphic images of aborted foetuses to try and dissuade women from exercising their right to choose. Their aim is to have abortion outlawed, no matter the circumstances.
On Saturday Brighton SolFed held three separate pickets of Holland and Barratt stores in Brighton and in Hastings in response to their continued use of unpaid workfare placements to reduce staff costs. Across the country SolFed locals and other groups took part in a day of action to highlight the use of workfare by high street companies.
The national day of action was called by SolFed to coincide with the International Workers’ Association (of which SolFed is the British section) days of action which included the general strike in Spain called by our Spanish section, the CNT.
As part of the International Workers' Association days of action, Solidarity Federation Locals across the country will be taking action against workfare on Saturday 31st March. In Brighton, we will be meeting at the Clock Tower on the junction of Queens Rd and North St at 11am. Target to be confirmed, as firms are pulling out regularly at the moment.
The following Monday (2nd April), there will be a communications blockade of the same target to keep up the pressure.
Saturday March 3rd was a national day of action against workfare, called by Boycott Workfare. In Brighton, members of Solidarity Federation headed down to Jubilee Street to support the Brighton Benefits Campaign picket of Tesco.
Turnout was encouraging, with over 50 people in attendance. A sizeable socialist contingent marched from Tesco in St James Street to Jubilee Street, before moving on to McDonalds. As numbers were still high outside Tesco, we were able to take another group to picket the Tesco store on Queens Rd. This was quite successful in turning people away, with only one person manning the checkouts inside the store.
Brighton SF are backing the March 3rd national day of action against workfare called by Boycott Workfare. We'll be supporting the actions organised locally by the Brighton Benefits Campaign. We urge all SF Locals to do the same, supporting local events or organising something if nothing is planned. We think workfare is an attack not just on the unemployed, but also undermines the conditions of workers in paid employment. We think concerted direct action can beat it, and will be redoubling our efforts to this end.
Members of Brighton SF turned out to support a picket of Pizza Hut organised by the IWW union last Saturday. Pickets braved snow and freezing temperatures to answer the call for solidarity from Pizza Hut workers in Sheffield, who are organising with the IWW (Industrial Workers of the World). Below is the text from the IWW Pizza Hut workers' union explaining the current dispute, which has been brewing for a year. Brighton Solidarity Federation extend our solidarity to the Pizza Hut workers' organising efforts and the IWW.
If you're having trouble with the boss or landlord, or just want to find out more about the Solidarity Federation, we're holding a drop-in session this Sunday morning at 10am at the Cowley Club, 12 London Rd, Brighton. Drop in for a coffee and a chat. We are a revolutionary union initiative - we're not legal experts but we can help you find out your rights and suggest direct action tactics to get what you deserve.