On Saturday 3rd March, a national day of action against workfare took place after liverpool uncut announced a planned protest. The call was put out by boycott workfare; who have some excellent information about workfare if you want to know what its all about. In Bristol sixty people conducted an angry tour of workfare providers with a sound system in tow.
There were contingents from YFJ, IWW, RTW, AF and numerous other people who didn’t appear to have an acronym. The group initially took on known workfare subscribers Greggs and Mcdonalds before moving onto Primark where security clashed with demonstrators as they entered the store. Guards used excessive force on a couple of people nearly provoking a more serious altercation with the crowd.
The next hour and a half was full of highlights: Argos shutting at the mere site of the protest, Greggs closing after the briefest of occupations, massive support from people out in town, and the sound system making its way up an escalator followed by a police officer straining to hear his orders from his relatively quiet radio After this around half the marchers made their way to the planned rally in castle park whilst the other half decided they wanted to keep the energy and momentum going by continuing to demonstrate,
As people ran into what was due to be the last target of the day (the second Mcdonalds) more police arrived and managed to arrest two people, seemingly picked at random. Thinking this would end the protest the police left. A smaller group reconvened and protested inside Holiday Inn. The manager said that their part of the franchise didn’t have anyone on a workfare scheme, and they were asked to put out an official statement saying they (unlike other holiday inns) will not participate in the future. After this a solidarity demonstration was held outside Trinity Road police station untill those arrested were released. They have been bailed on relatively minor and completely unfounded charges.
Later that evening two police officers turned up at the start of a benefit gig for the Hunt Saboteurs Association, they apparently believed it was connected to the action earlier in the day ‘because they are both about benefits’. Beautifully representative of police ‘intelligence’ we reckon.
There will be more anti-workfare actions in Bristol in the near future. They will continue untill the schemes have been scrapped, and employment secretary, known homophobe and evident liar Chris Greyling is removed from office. One way or another.