On Saturday Bristol AFed members were joined by other local activists for a picket of notorious workfare scheme users poundland. This was one of many nationwide actions this week in response to a call from boycott workfare, including an awesome occupation of Urban Futures in London, and the shutting down of Learn Direct in Edinburgh.
Our action was a little less confrontational (this time!), as we took the oppurtunity that protests in our local communities give us to engage in longer and more meaningful conversations with people living, working and shopping in (in this case) Bedminster. Over two hours we handed out around 300 leaflets to almost universal support, and only one spotted dropped on the floor.
Poundland didn’t seem to appreciate our presence as much as the locals. After we’d already been there over an hour a security guard was sent out to get us to move bags, banners and ourselves off of an unsused part of their property and onto the pavement. After telling the guard we thought us being directly in peoples way was a stupid idea, especialy if someone were to trip over our gear, he was joined by a manager. Taking the oppurtunity to talk to the person in charge we suggested the best solution all round would be if he agreed to not use workfare in his shop and we left completely.
His counter offer was a laughable attempt to get us to head to his competitors -poundstretcher- instead! Turns out we don’t take orders from corporations. Being the anti-authoritarian trouble makers we are, this actually led to us deciding to stick at poundland longer, rather than moving off to other targets. After that the security guard attempted to grab our banner and physically force us out of the area completely… he failed to do either and was led away by his manager for getting over excited. The police then took some time out of their busy schedule upholding the oppressive power structures of capitalism to tell us we wern’t doing anything illegal.
It was great to link up with new people about this issue, one that clearly demonstrates the contempt all our ‘leaders’ have for the working clas, and, importantly, an area we continue to score victories in.
We’ll be back on the streets for more anti-workfare action very soon, hard to believe its been five months since the last one (when we sucessfully demonstrated to get St Wherburghs Farm off of the scheme). Get in touch if you want to get invovled.