Following Marks & Spencers' recent boast that 2% of their workforce would soon be made up of unemployed people on an unpaid workfare scheme, Radical Islington picketed and distributed leaflets outside the company's Holloway Road branch on Sunday, 8th December.
Thanks to the support of groups such
as Boycott Workfare, North London Solidarity Federation and Feminist Fightback the action was a great success! Over 20 people stood outside
the shop chanting and displaying banners and placards about M&S' use
of free labour. More than 500 leaflets were handed out, and
demonstrators engaged in conversation with the public, explaining the
situation at M&S and denouncing workfare in general.
The response was overwhelmingly positive and people were shocked to learn about the company's malpractices. Shoppers were encouraged to boycott M&S as long as they continue their scandalous exploitation of thousands of unemployed people across the country. Unemployed people who will find themselves working full-time for nothing more than their dole.
Prior to this, contact was made with the staff in the store to explain that the protest was not aimed at them but at their bosses. M&S's national policy of using unpaid labour affects all of us, in and out of work, by driving down wages and replacing full time workers with unpaid temporary staff with no employment rights.
Meanwhile M&S will be saving some £1.3 million a month in wages, further stoking their profit whilst lining the deep pockets of their directors and shareholders. Last year M&S made over £500 million profit.
This action was co-ordinated with Haringey Solidarity Group who likewise targeted M&S in Wood Green, as part of a week of action called by Boycott Workfare.