There’s an odd title! Once you accept and espouse anarchist principles you are always on the defence, somewhat marginalised and to be honest success by the wider movement is a rarity and often hard earned.
You might be aware of Workfare. This right wing idea of forcing people to work without pay with the carrot of…maybe a crap job at the end of it!
There’s been an ongoing push against Holland and Barrett of late. I’m not a big fan of theirs, it’s corporate and there’s two independent health food shops in Bedford so I go there. Holland and Barrett were flag wavers for Workfare so they got targetted by protests. Nothing shouty. Here’s a copy of the statement put out by H&B yesterday!
“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”
Now back to the title of this blog! It’s the title of a song by Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger. It must be over 25 years ago, I was in Dublin holding a placard. Coming from a Northern Irish background at the time going to the “Free State” wasn’t the done thing but something kicked off down there and having no truck with sectarian divides off we went.
Ten young women and one young man found themselves out on a picket line as a result of their union having voted not to support apartheid and encouraging shop workers to refuse to handle (help to sell) South African produce. Mary Manning was the first to say no. She was sacked on the spot and her colleagues went out as well. For days then weeks then months they stood there.
Now this was happening all over the place, one tactic in Liverpool was to fill a trolley up with South African stuff and then leave it. I was luke warm about this as for the most part all that happened was that someone had to go round the shop putting it back although I accept it did put Safeways and Tesco under the spotlight and the better evolved tactic was to go for quality rather than quantity in the form of just meat and fish, something that couldn’t be put back.
What happened in Dublin though was I still believe extraordinary as it brought so many disparate groups together and the “vibe” can still be felt today.
These people weren’t battle hardened trade union or human rights activists they were simply people with all the baggage of mortgages, bills, kids and so on who said no to something they felt passionate about! This was no “lets hold our ground, we shall overcome” type thing, there were villified, assualted by the Garda and Dunnes boot boys, illness throughstanding outside, homes were lost. They emerged battle scarred. But they never gave up. Because they had each other. They just stood their ground.
If this is new to you and you want to read more here’s a link.