Tag Archives: Holland & Barrett

Workfare Protesters Are Violent Criminals Claim Holland & Barrett

In a shocking twist on the workfare row, one of the largest users of unpaid labour has issued a strings of slurs against customers who chose to boycott or picket the store.

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

Holland & Barrett Pull Out Of Workfare!

In yet another humiliating snub for Chris Grayling, major retailer Holland & Barrett have said they are pulling out of workfare schemes.

The health food chain have said the current 60 Work Experience placements will complete their provision but they will be the last unpaid workers at the company.  This announcement follows several weeks of intensive campaigning by Solidarity Federation, who joined by Boycott Workfare, have organised pickets of their stores throughout the UK.

Meanwhile hundreds of people contacted them on twitter and facebook to state their intention to boycott the company.  As recently as March, Employment Minister Chris Grayling had boasted that: ‘Holland and Barrett have committed to supporting one thousand young people over the next twelve months’ by delivering ‘placements and support’  in partnership with Jobcentre Plus.

Holland & Barrett’s decision, coming just days before the National Week of Action Against Workfare, shows just how out of touch this Government must be if they think the public will tolerate huge money grabbing corporations forcing people to work for their benefits.

Holland & Barrett are not completely out of the woods.  They will continue to employ apprentices, paid just a meagre £2.60 an hour, less than half the minimum wage.  But this announcement still represents yet another victory against forced labour and throws into disarray the Government’s plans to extend the scheme, or force long term unemployed people into six months workfare.

Holland & Barrett have attempted to blame the upcoming protests as the reason they pulled out of the scheme.  The company’s full statement on facebook said:

“At Holland & Barrett, we take our responsibilities as a retailer and employer very seriously, and any possible compromise to the safety of our staff and customers from opponents of our work experience scheme is treated with great importance.

“This factor, together with the planned introduction of a new full time, salaried apprentice scheme, means that the 60 people currently undertaking the work experience scheme will be the last to complete the eight week placement. After this time Holland & Barrett will not participate further in that scheme.”

With plenty of workfare exploiters still to choose from, the Week of Action Against Workfare is still set to go ahead.  Keep an eye on Boycott Workfare’s website or the facebook page for the latest news.

The Government is increasingly dependent on charities to provide ever more punitive workfare placements.  Some such as the British Heart Foundation (@the BHF) have boasted they use workfare in every store.  Other like @scope have claimed to no longer use mandatory work, yet the DWP have published case studies of them doing just that.  Disability Works charities, such as @mindcharity, @mencap_charity and the aforementioned @scope are even sub-contractors for the Work Programme.  On this scheme unemployed people have been sentenced to up to six months workfare, whilst  people claiming disability benefits are punished with brutal sanctions for ‘non-compliance’ with ‘mandated work activity’, such as failing to attend a training course or missing a meeting.

It is a sad and revealing state of affairs when companies like Holland & Barrett are quicker to sense the public mood and reject exploitative forced labour schemes, whilst the so called charitable sector props them up in order to make a cheap buck.

Join the Week of Action beginning tomorrow (Sat 7th July – protests planned in Central London, Liverpool, Leeds, Bristol, Birmingham, Brighton, Hastings, Hackney, Blackheath, Brixton, Islington, Edinburgh, Poole, Rhondda Valley, Wood Green and York so far – full details (which may have changed due to Holland & Barrett’s announcement), can be found via: http://www.boycottworkfare.org/?p=1154

Holland & Barrett Communications Blockade – Today!

Liverpool Solidarity Federation have called a communications blockade of workfare exploiters Holland & Barrett to coincide with their action against workfare in Liverpool today (Saturday 23rd June).

This will be the third weekend of action against workfare in the city this month and they have called for people around the UK to contact the snake oil salesmen and let them know what you think about their use of unpaid labour.

Holland & Barrett have just turned up on twitter.  You can keep them busy @holland_barrett

Spread the word!

From facebook: http://www.facebook.com/events/152414588215933/

Holland & Barrett have been a target for action because they market themselves as an “ethical” retailer, all the while using unpaid labour to shore up their profits. There has been considerable pressure against them for this, and pickets across the country will continue until they stop. But even if you can’t make it to a picket, you can still take part!

The aim is to shut down their phone lines as much as possible on this day in order to cause them further disruption. They may not listen to individual complaints, but they will take notice when the sheer volume of calls coming in makes it harder to get things done!

Holland & Barrett Liverpool – Whitechapel
Tel: 0151 236 8911

Media enquiries: 01903 219 426
Fax: 02476 215497
Send Free faxes via http://www.freepopfax.com/

Email: customerservices@hollandandbarrett.com recruitment@hollandandbarrett.com

A national week of action against workfare begins on the 7th July: http://www.boycottworkfare.org/?p=1154

More Lies, Spin and Smears from Chris Grayling and the DWP

Chris Grayling is lying through his teeth again in the Daily Mail today leading to the ludicrous claim that half of unemployed people are secretly working.

This is based on the claim that 46% of people referred onto the Government’s Mandatory Work Activity scheme (MWA)  – a system of community service for unemployed people –  sign off before starting the scheme or fail to turn up and have benefits sanctioned.

MWA is used should a Jobcentre advisor decide someone isn’t trying hard enough to find work.  It consists of 4 weeks unpaid work, similar to a medium level Community Payback sentence.  Job Seekers are now being treated in the same way as those who may have committed burglary, Actual Bodily Harm, or sexual offences, the only difference being the unemployed don’t get the benefit of a trial.

Claimants are sent to work for charity shops and ‘community organisations’.  Many of these charities are household names, such as the British Heart Foundation (@thebhf), who’s charity shops are fast becoming little more than punishment centres for the unemployed.  Other charities have lied through their teeth about their involvement in forced labour.  Charity SCOPE (@scope) are adamant that not one of the volunteers in their shops are there under threat of benefit sanctions.  Yet in a recent press release on the DWP’s own website, a case study is outlined in which someone was sent on Mandatory Work Activity in a SCOPE charity shop.  Failure to attend MWA can lead to benefits being sanctioned for three months.

The brutal testing regime for sickness benefits, carried out by French IT firm Atos, has led to hundreds of thousands of sick or disabled people being forced onto Job Seekers Allowance where they now face workfare.  Many of these people have mental health conditions.  The Social Service Advisory Committee warned that this group in particular may be vulnerable to sanctions if MWA went ahead.

It is quite possible that many of those who signed off after being sent on MWA, or failed to attend the scheme, represent people who are not well enough to work full time, or were not fully aware of the consequences.  These are not people who have been working on the side, but people who have simply been forced out of the benefits system into poverty and quite possibly homelessness.

Grayling himself appears to admit that some of them signed back on when they thought the coast was clear.  This is not the behaviour of someone committing fraud.  Yet this hasn’t stopped the minister and his friends at the Daily Mail of attempting to smear almost a million unemployed people as criminals.

As ever in amongst Grayling’s slurs and spin he can’t resist an outright lie.  Grayling claims in the Mail today that:

“‘I sat through an interview with a young man in a job centre who was working for a few hours a week, below the benefit threshold, at a local nightclub,’

The benefit threshold is £5 a week.  Either Grayling doesn’t have a clue about the basics of how the benefit system actually works.  Or he is making shit up again to please the braying hounds at the Daily Mail.  Compulsive liar Grayling has moved so far from the truth it is impossible to believe anything that he, or the DWP, tell us anymore.

70,000 claimants are now to face MWA under changes announced yesterday.  It now seems certain that those who refuse to attend workfare on the Work Programme, or Work Experience schemes, will be sent on MWA instead.  When the workfare row blew up earlier in the year Grayling announced that sanctions would no longer be applied to young people who didn’t want to take part in Work Experience and face being sent to sleep under a bridge with no access to food or toilet facilities.

It is now clear that Grayling’s claims were a  deliberate attempt to mislead the business community, charities and the public alike.  Sanctions have been  snuck back into the scheme under another guise as soon as the minister thinks the public have forgotten.  If you refuse ‘voluntary’ workfare, then you will be sent on ‘mandatory’ workfare or face sanctions potentially lasting up three years.

The problem is the public haven’t forgotten.  A week of action against workfare is planned to begin on Saturday 7th July. In Liverpool Solidarity Federation have been carrying out pickets and communication blockades on a weekly basis aimed at fraudulent bastards A4e and fake ethical company Holland & Barrett who plan to use workfare to recruit up to a quarter of their staff.  Solidarity Federation will be continuing to target the company throughout the week of action.  A recent national conference aimed at ending workfare has co-ordinated groups around the UK determined to stamp out the exploitative practice of unpaid work.  Anger on the internet has swelled again with hundreds of people now threatening boycotts of workfare exploiters Argos and the British Heart Foundation.

The pressure needs to be maintained.  There is little point directing protests at the DWP or Chris Grayling who can’t even be trusted to tell us the truth about what is going on in the benefits system.  Workfare exploiters should be confronted directly.  It matters little what crazy schemes Grayling comes up with next if companies and charities realise involvement in forced labour is far from profitable.  If they exploit us, we will shut them down.


Holland & Barrett Face Pickets and Occupations!

Workfare campaigners staged a lively day of action in South London yesterday following the call out from South London Solidarity Federation.

Snake oil salesmen Holland & Barrett, who have plans to replace around a quarter of their staff with unpaid labour, were the target on a day which also saw actions in Hackney, Brighton and Lincoln.

In Lewisham protesters met in the town centre and thwarted a heavy police and security presence outside Holland & Barrett in the shopping centre by heading to leafy Blackheath instead.

On arrival at the Blackheath branch of Holland & Barrett, one of the larger stores in London, banners were unfurled and a noisy but good-natured picket began.  Staff in the store were given a well deserved break whilst for two hours barely anyone entered the store after being informed of the companies exploitative practices.   Despite the somewhat posh environment, the picket was well received by those passing by, many of whom were shocked to discover that a pretend ethical company like Holland & Barrett refuse to pay many of their workers.

After the successful picket it was back to Lewisham shopping mall where Holland & Barrett were now unguarded.  Protesters entered the shop for some militant browsing before unveiling the banner and shouts of ‘workfare, unfair’ brought the store to a standstill.  They were soon joined by a very cross store manager who began shouting ‘get out, get out’ at the top of his voice, upsetting some of the store’s younger customers.

The shopping centre’s security weren’t far behind as they arrived en masse and began throwing their considerable weight around.  Finally plod turned up, and along with the security staff, bundled protesters out of the store under threat of imminent arrest.

A mob of police and security then pushed protesters out of the shopping centre completely.  The picket continued for a short while in the market before a quick trip to Greggs, who are also involved in workfare schemes.

Once again customers turned away after they were told of unpaid labour being used in the company’s stores.  Greggs, who are already reeling from the news that coppers are to face annual fitness tests, as well as the infamous pasty tax, could well do without yet more controversy sure to drive away customers.

The Government have temporarily removed sanctions from some of the workfare schemes after the recent storm of protests.  Early indications suggest this hasn’t filtered down to Jobcentre staff with reports that people are still being bullied into unpaid work.  Those who refuse the currently ‘voluntary’ Work Programme and Work Experience schemes have been forced to attend Mandatory Workfare instead.

Meanwhile multi-national companies are using work experience staff to fill labour shortages and drive down wages and working conditions for everybody.  In a naked wealth grab by the rich, multi-billion pound companies and their Tory lackies are attempting to dictate to unemployed young people that it is normal and acceptable to carry out unpaid work in a High Street Store or supermarket whilst trying to find a job.  Barely any of these claimants are offered jobs at the end of the scheme and results suggest that ‘Work Experience’ is virtually useless as a method of helping unemployed people find work.

Protests are set to continue across the UK until every worker is paid the wage they deserve.  Next weekend a conference is being held in Brighton to discuss ‘how do we break workfare?’. 

Keep an eye on the Boycott Workfare and Solidarity Federation websites for details of upcoming action against workfare.  In the meantime boycott Holland & Barrett and support your local independent witch doctor instead.

Combat Workfare This Weekend

There’s more action against workfare this weekend as resistance to forced labour shows no sign of dying down.

South London Solfed have called for people to meet at noon, by the Clock Tower in Lewisham Town Centre on Saturday 18th May, where they’ll targeting a local well known fake health food shop.  More info on facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/events/389673874416996/

Meanwhile in Hackney North London Solfed will be at Holland & Barrett on Mare Street at 1pm: http://www.facebook.com/events/308232095922796/

Lincoln Underground Collective will be taking action against workfare exploiters on Saturday, meet at the Angel Coffee Shop, Free School Lane from 11am:  http://www.facebook.com/events/224115987703699/

Then next weekend, on the 26th Saturday, Brighton Benefits Campaign are holding a conference entitled How Do We Break Workfare?  Full details on their website, the conference is being held at Brighton Railway Club from 11am.

Please help spread the word about all events.

Workfare isn’t working, let’s keep kicking till it breaks for good.

There’s another report about yesterday’s Farewell Emma, Farewell A4e Party outside A4e in Brixton at: http://www.boycottworkfare.org/?p=974

Reports From Day of Action Against Workfare

More reports on yesterday’s National Day of Action Against Workfare

Brighton – two Holland & Barretts picketed – more info at: http://brightonbenefitscampaign.wordpress.com/2012/03/31/day-of-action-against-workfare-targets-holland-barratt/ and followed by a successful march against anti-squatting laws.

Edinburgh – British Heart Foundation and Poundstretcher targetted: http://www.edinburghagainstpoverty.org.uk/node/74

Liverpool – ASDA then Holland & Barrett: http://www.solfed.org.uk/?q=liverpool/combating-workfare-in-liverpool-3132012

Halifax – Started early with a picket of Holland & Barrett on Friday: http://www.solfed.org.uk/?q=west-yorks/holland-and-barrett-picket-in-halifax

Bristol – Punk classics outside Holland & Barrett then a tour of the city’s other workfare exploiters: http://www.solfed.org.uk/?q=bristol/bristol-abolish-workfare-demo-targets-holland-and-barrett

Wakefield – West Yorkshire Solfed and Anarchist federation link up: http://www.solfed.org.uk/?q=west-yorks/anti-workfare-poundland-picket-wakefield

Bournemouth – Wessex Solidarity picket two branches of Holland & Barrett whilst ukuncut do their thing in Vodafone: http://wessexsolidarity.wordpress.com/2012/03/31/holland-barrett-pickets/

Swindon – Swindon Anarchists picket Holland & Barrett: https://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2012/04/494447.html

Lincoln – Lincoln Underground Collective visit Holland & Barrett, Primark and Poundland: http://lincolnundergroundcollective.wordpress.com/2012/04/01/report-on-31st-march-action-against-workfare-in-lincoln/#

York – York Welfare Campaign take a tour of the city’s workfare exploiters: http://yorkanarchist.wordpress.com/2012/04/01/workfare-protests-in-york/

Glasgow – Solfed, the IWW and Anarchist federation picket Holland & Barrett: http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2012/04/494455.html

In London there were pickets outside Holland & Barrett in both North and South London as covered yesterday.

Actions took place in many other towns and cities around the UK – please post up links to any more reports in the comments.

Above pic from the Bristol action.