Victory over H&B and start of the week of action against Workfare.

Following the sudden caving in of Holland and Barrett, our local anti-workfare group convened outside a branch of Argos in Poole. A diverse range of activists’ groups answered the call out and our peaceful picket commenced, following the usual format:

Reassurance was given to staff and a letter explaining the action along with a copy of Solfed’s Workfare Pamphlet. We had the usual mixed response we get round here: some are already affected by this, some are worried about it, some ignorant but interested, some right right behind us and a few “I’m all right Jack, bugger off”.

After a while we were joined by some sinister black-clad figures who scowled a great deal to no good purpose; they turned out to be the security prats from the nearby Dolphin Centre arcade; a good-natured plod appeared and basically told them to mind their own business as we were doing nothing illegal.

After the picket we took a short-cut through the Dolphin Centre on our way for a coffee, and found ourselves followed by a crowd of the aforementioned prats who were evidently desperate to have a row, near the exit, for some inexplicable reason, several comrades were assaulted, including a grandmother and a teenage girl.

We had resolved to maintain Boycott Workfare and SolFed’s strategy of peaceful protest – which is clearly working – and with Holland and Barrett’s spurious claims of violence  uppermost in our minds, we took great care not to harm any of these buffoons, making it our priority to just get everyone out of there safely – though they really were asking for it.

Anyway they did us a big favour because the gathering crowd were suddenly interested to hear all about our protest and the workfare campaign.

We’ll be back!

11 thoughts on “Victory over H&B and start of the week of action against Workfare.

  1. I will continue to refuse to participate in any form of workfare I am asked / told to do whilst on the Work Programme, safe in the knowledge that once every few weeks / months people will be protesting outside shops of a specific company. I am obviously deluded in thinking that resistance against workfare must be built from within the unemployed to refuse to participate similar to non payment of poll tax.

    I will leave the building of an anti capitalist movement and all the protests / demos / campaigns etc to those who know better to discuss amongst themselves.

  2. A No we didn’t.
    B that was the bus station exit, at least, there were buses parked there in a rank.
    C people react to aggression differently, but still showed considerable restraint.
    D the workfare protest was completed successfully outside about 30 minutes earlier.

    The question of whether we should all disrobe and disperse immediately after a protest is over is a valid one, but one we should have within the movement.

    For some, the uncut, occupy and workfare campaigns are all the same and part of the anti-capitalist movement generally.

    Solfed resolved democratically to concentrate on workfare as it’s contribution to the anti-austerity campaign.

    Some would contend that unity of theory is necessary for unity of action; anarchosyndicalist praxis is for workers to come together democratically and act in their common interest, after that they just go back to being workers with their own agendas, as long as we’re all engaged in class struggle we can find common ground – but of course we’re not all anarchosyndicalists, it would perhaps be simpler if we were.

    Again, I think we should keep these discussions amongst ourselves.

  3. Looking at all the Bournemouth Uncut Facebook group comments I think this has been blown out of all proportion. Correct me if I am wrong but you are being disingenerous with the truth when you say that you were all just ‘walking through for a coffee’. I don’t know but did you go up the escalator? If you did, you were not walking through? If you were walking through, presumably you entered via the Kingland Crescent entrance. If you were walking through you would have left via the Bus Station exit. The videos on You Tube show you being told to leave at the Bus Station exit. If you were walking through, presumably you had achieved your goal of walking through and as you state that you didn’t want confrontation, so why did some refuse to leave and re-enter when ejected. If as the others have stated, legal action is taken, I suggest you all get your stories straight pronto. It is like all the drama lovers have crawled from the woodwork and as I said above it is detracting from the issue – workfare. Myself I think it is all pathetic and embarrassing and it will not help the building of a movement in this area in any way, shape or form.

  4. Of course people are free to be themselves and wear whatever they like but if you want to engage with the public I would suggest that a face mask blocks that, rather than helps.

    Just to clarify, the Dolphin Centre is no more a public place than a pub. People may not like the law but the law is; it is up to the management’s discretion who is allowed to use it and it has always been the same for last 40 years. Were you fighting workfare or land right of access law? Do what is necessary to achieve the objective not actions that detract from it. Clarity?

    And yes I think the public should be engaged but I think all people should be engaged, irrelevant of class. I don’t like living within a them and us society and don’t want to live in a them and us turned on its head society.

    • We’re not all keen on the masks but I’m not mandated to speak for anyone else – that’s a discussion we should have within the movement.

      You’ll be telling us next they were just doing their job – which they weren’t – they were just a bunch of bell ends wanting to throw their weight about, the protest was over, half the pickets had gone home or I suspect they wouldn’t have bothered us. They tried very hard to provoke us until we were almost out the door anyway; they might as well have been the EDL.

      I must point out that none of our party threw a single punch or other strike during the encounter although it could have been justified in self defence. That would have turned it into a ‘fight’ as such rather than just an ungainly scrum. The strategy of Solfed and Boycott workfare is to keep these protests peaceful, but given the diverse political affiliations of those present it seems we each made that choice independently, as much out of respect for the people of Poole going about their business on a Saturday afternoon, which is to everyone’s credit.

      The only people who could have created alarm or distress were the staff themselves. Had we anticipated a confrontation we would probably have walked the long way round for the above reasons but the possibility was never discussed.

      I use the word ‘class’ here to define a person’s relationship to the means of production. The bourgeoisie, by definition is engaged in class struggle all the time and has been for about 300 years, that’s why we need to recognise our common interest and act together as a class, regardless of our differences.

      Good luck getting permission to protest workfare in an arcade with several of the culprits established in it.

  5. You may not be suing but from what I’ve read, others have that intention. I wasn’t there or involved with this event, so please correct me where wrong:

    An action was planned outside H&B to hand leaflets outside the shop in kingland Crescent Poole about their use of unpaid work placements. Due to the company’s announcement that they would be withdrawing from workfare, this was changed at the last minute to Argos. But the intention was still to engage the public and hand leaflets about workfare. This was successfully accomplished and all the leaflets were handed out.

    Some / most of the people attending (including some wearing anon masks) then decided to hold an unplanned walk through in the Dolphin Centre between shops that are participating in workfare.

    I would ask these questions:

    How would the public in the shopping centre know what you were doing?

    If you had already achieved your objectives, what were the motives behind an unplanned further action (without leaflets or banners) aimed at raising awareness about workfare?

    I get the sense that some are caught in no man’s land between public engagement and direct action / civil obedience. To me, this distracts from the message trying to be given and is unfair to those who attend an event which turns into something else. I would suggest trying to get some clarity into what you are trying to achieve and how you plan to do it.

    None of my business I know and at the end of the day it is entirely up to an individual or group what they do. However, some of us were planning weekly information stalls to raise awareness about the cuts, workfare etc, in various locations around Poole, including Kingland Crescent and the Dolphin Centre. To do this we have to get permission from Dolphin Centre Management but as a result of a jolly half hour, it is unlikely that those “sinister black-clad figures” will give it.

    • It wan’t a further action, we were in a public place being ourselves, some of us wear masks and that’s just their style, as it was an open, public action participants were free to wear whatever they liked – and who can say they shouldn’t?

      I can’t see how class struggle can advance if dependent on permission from ‘management’ or have to pander to the prejudices of these ignorami. Wouldn’t it be better to engage with our own class in sufficient strength that we can dispense with their interference.

  6. I’ve heard it mentioned that those assaulted are planning on pressing charges against the security guards. that’s up to them. But if I was involved I wouldn’t be too happy about the video that is circulating supposedly to prove their case. It clearly shows someone being thrown out from the Dolphin Centre and that person then re-entering. Forget about the rights and wrong of whether the person should have been removed from the centre. It is private property so the law will not look favourably towards the re-entering and the person may well end up being prosecuted which I asssume is not the intended result. Best just bite the bullet and take the punch on the chin!

    To me, there are 2 ways of protesting, peacefully engaging the public and direct action / civil disobedience. I do not have a problem with either but feel it is very difficult to do both at the same time although accept that the latter may engage the public after the event. What I personally have a problem with, is those that take the direct action / civil disobedience and then whinge about being pushed / assaulted / arrested. I am afraid that it simply goes with the territory. If you don’t like it or can’t take it – don’t do it.

    • We didn’t plan to have a fight so we didn’t have one – it would have been counter productive for the reasons stated. I don’t believe in private property or coercion of any kind. Some of us had a little tussle but as we are not interested in engaging with the state will not be resorting to the law. Comrades are autonomous and free to use any strategy they choose. I won’t comment on that; all that matters is we defeat workfare and ultimately win the class war. I anticipate it will get a lot livelier than this – and we won’t be suing!

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