Holland & Barrett were planning to recruit up to 1000 unpaid staff on the various Government workfare schemes. This drew storms of protest with hundreds of customers taking to twitter (@holland_barrett) threatening to boycott the store. Well attended and entirely peaceful pickets took place outside scores of their stores around the UK, many attended and even organised by former customers.
The so called health food store remained silent on their use of workfare until this morning when they announced they were pulling out of the scheme. So furious however are the company at having to pay their staff they decided to vent that fury on those who had attended the many pickets.
Initially Holland & Barrett claimed they were dropping workfare due to upcoming protests, claiming, in what was little more than a crude slur, that they were concerned staff and customers might be at risk. Later in the day they went on step further, apparently telling the Guardian that staff had faced assaults at previous protests and that stock had been damaged.
The company appear to concede that they weren’t aware of any protesters being charged, let alone prosecuted, for these criminal acts. There have been no reports of arrests at any of the Holland & Barrett demos so far.
Then along came lying bastard Chris Grayling, the Minister for Employment, in a suspiciously swift response to the company’s announcement. Grayling blustered this morning that those campaigning against workfare are a “disgrace” and vowed to “stand up firmly” against protesters.
If Holland & Barrett have evidence of criminal acts against their staff perhaps they can produce a crime number with details of when the alleged incidents took place. Alternatively the company can explain why they chose not to take any action on behalf of staff who have been assaulted. Or perhaps they could admit that they are lying, cheating, snake oil selling vermin with as little respect for their customers as they have for their workers.
It is clear that Holland & Barrett have no more than contempt for the hundreds of customers who boycotted and picketed store – and may well have popped in for a vegan pasty today had they not been so ruthlessly libelled. It is also apparent that they have no regrets about plans to replace a quarter of their staff with unpaid workers. They are likely to be back to their old exploitative ways the second they think no-one’s watching.
Holland & Barrett’s only regret is that they can’t get free labour anymore. This alone has been enough to bring on a temper tantrum from the company who have turned on their own ethical customers. I’d recommend they have some chamomile tea. Bought from a local independent witch doctor.
The National Week of Action Against Workfare is going ahead as planned and begins tomorrow (Saturday 7th July) – more details at: http://www.boycottworkfare.org/?p=1154