Last Friday was May Day, and as working class agitators we wanted to celebrate it with some action. Having dedicated much of our time to the Bookfair, Anti-Election Campaigning, SolNet, workplace organising, and producing Organise!84 we didn’t have quite as much time to plan and mobilise as in 2012/13. A call out for a week of action against workfare made it easy to choose what to do though. Afterall the DWP listed us as a threat to the workfare scheme – and we want to disappoint our fans.
Just over a dozen of us gathered in castle park (the risks of workday demos, still May Day is a Sunday next year) and marched straight across the bridge into TK MAXX accompanied by the sounds of Bella Ciao on a trumpet. After around 20 minutes protesting inside an outside the shop a photojournalist and others were ordered by security to stop filming. As you might have guessed this was a prelude to security pushing us out of the Galleries in an increasingly forceful manner. The police present turned a blind eye to any unnecessary force from them, but I doubt they’d have done the same if we’d thrown the punches.
This is an unusual escalation by security at the Galleries, some of which was captured on film. Its what can happen when so much of our ‘public’ space is under the control of corporate interests. Previously we’ve demonstrated against targets in the Galleries and only been followed around – we even got given free food buy some shops on a couple of occasions.
Undeterred we moved on to Marks & Spencer who have been using workfare along their supply chain, sticking around for longer and getting some really positive responses (and a few new contacts for the future). PoundLand was next – its traditional, and let them be a warning to others you can’t ‘wait out’ protest action, we’ll keep coming for you!
This wasn’t the only event of the day, after a brief interlude at a pub we joined migrant solidarity activists on Stapleton Road for a protest against detention, then headed to Kebele for a packed out benefit gig complete with mini May Day history lecture from BRHG.
We’ll be back fighting and winning against workfare in the near future, and expect bigger and better things from next May Day when we plan not to be doing five things at once!
See you in the streets!
Watermarked pictures from Red Orbital
For more on Workfare read our Workfare FAQ Leaflet