Anti workfare protestors blockade and occupy Superdrug and British Heart Foundation

Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty challenge Superdrug replacing paid staff with workfare. Photo: Bill Joseph

On 8th December, protests against workfare took place across the UK. Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty report on their action here. There’s more coming up so take part in the week of action!

Protestors blockaded and occupied both British Heart Foundation and Superdrug in Edinburgh today Saturday 8 December, in opposition to their participation in the government’s workfare schemes.

A huge banner declaring IF YOU EXPLOIT US WE WILL SHUT YOU DOWN blocked the entrance to the BHF furniture store in Leith’s Kirkgate centre as demonstrators occupied the shop. Impromptu speeches were given inside and out, explaining that although BHF had claimed to be “moving away” from workfare, they were still taking on new compulsory placements.

After half an hour inside BHF, protestors moved round the corner to blockade Superdrug. Many stopped to listen to spokespeople for the protest who gave speeches through a megaphone, stressing that this action was part of the wider resistance to the attacks by the rich on the poor. Hundreds took leaflets denouncing workfare and in particular the new imposition of workfare on the sick and disabled. Many people came up to the stall outside the occupied stores and joined ECAP’s solidarity network for mutual support against the authorities.

Demonstrators then moved inside Superdrug, where a protestor gave a speech explaining that this action was against workfare and in solidarity with Superdrug workers whose wages and conditions were being undermined by the company’s use of workfare. In Brighton, Superdrug are not taking on Xmas staff but are using workfare conscripts instead.

Although the police and the Kirkgate’s security guards were present they did not attempt to stop the occupations. The demo, part of Boycott Workfare’s Britain-wide week of action, was organised by Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty and supported by Greater Leith Against the Cuts.

The protest, around 40-strong, was considered a real success by participants. Hopefully British Heart Foundation will now realise that they must withdraw completely from workfare or suffer continued disruption, and the anti workfare movement will grow and spread to effectively challenge all users of forced unpaid labour.



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UK Uncut and Boycott Workfare Demonstrations in Birmingham – Reports and Photos | Birmingham Against The Cuts

[...] From Argos we went to Superdrug on the corner of Union Street and Corporation street, where the manager assured us that she did not use any workfare people at that particular store, but in Brighton, Superdrug have said they will not be taking any paid christmas temps on this year whilst they continue to get free workfare labour straight from the job centre. The demonstration finished at McDonalds, who use workfare and made £10m from a government work scheme without creating a single job, where free veggie burgers were given out to the public in a mirror of the earlier Starbucks action. Over a dozen demonstrations were held against workfare around the UK, with more to come this week. [...]