A domino falls: Holland & Barrett quit workfare after direct action

Campaigners are claiming a major scalp in the fight against workfare after retailer Holland & Barrett announced they were pulling out of the scheme. On hearing the news, Brighton Solidarity Federation tweeted "we've won an important battle against workfare, but the war is far from over." The announcement came just 24 hours before a planned national week of action against workfare organised by the Boycott Workfare Network. Holland & Barrett had strongly backed workfare, announcing that they were committed to taking 1,000 people on unpaid work schemes this year alone (out of a workforce of just 3,500).

Statement on the Importance of Survivor-Led Process

This statement is in response to the publication of details pertaining to the actions of a member of the Solidarity Federation which has disrupted an ongoing internal process. This statement should not be seen as a defence of the person or actions in question but an examination of the impact that acting outside process has on survivors and the community as a whole. This statement comes from discussions within the gender working group of the Brighton local of the Solidarity Federation and is supported by the National Women’s Officer and the survivor involved.

Maintaining the pressure on Holland & Barrett in Brighton

Brighton Solidarity Federation and the Brighton Benefits Campaign picketed the London Road branch of Holland & Barrett this morning (23rd June). We had a warm reception from the public, giving out several hundred leaflets during the three hours we were there and turning at least half of their trade away. 

So many potential customers decided to shop elsewhere that a member of staff came out and started a loud argument, accusing us of having physically blocked people from coming in to the shop. It was unfortunate that his rant was based on the fact that customers had been ‘in the doorway’ before turning away – proving that they found Holland & Barrett’s use of workfare far more off-putting than our picket.

Public Meeting (3rd July) - Opposing the EDL in Bristol (14th July)

Brighton has seen off the fascist EDL twice already this year, with successful mobilisations against the March for England and subsequent 'revenge' visit. Now they've decided to target another southern city - Bristol - on the 14th of July. 

Brighton Anti-Fascists are hosting a public meeting on the 3rd of July to discuss mobilising against this threat. It is at 7.30 in the Cowley Club on London Road.

If you think the minimum wage is too generous, Holland & Barrett would love to give you a job

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.

Sussex Uni: 300 staff and students demonstrate at lunchtime protest

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.

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.

Keeping up the pressure: the fight against workfare continues

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.

Far-right humiliated by mass resistance in Brighton

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.

National Conference: how do we break Workfare?

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.

 

Second Day of Picketing Holland & Barrett in Brighton

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.

Carnival for choice in Worthing - report

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.

Join us in Worthing for the Carnival for Choice!

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.

Report on 31 March workfare pickets in Brighton and Hastings

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.

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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. We also have a very active housing union.

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