Holland & Barrett quit workfare after direct action

Holland & Barrett picket

Campaigners are claiming a major scalp in the fight against workfare after retailer Holland & Barrett announced they were pulling out of the scheme.

On hearing the news, Brighton Solidarity Federation tweeted "we've won an important battle against workfare, but the war is far from over." The announcement came just 24 hours before a planned national week of action against workfare organised by the Boycott Workfare Network. Holland & Barrett had strongly backed workfare, announcing that they were committed to taking 1,000 people on unpaid work schemes this year alone (out of a workforce of just 3,500).

However, since their April announcement at a workfare conference organised by Department for Work and Pensions Minister Chris Grayling, escalating protests have singled-out the firm with regular pickets across the UK turning away shoppers shocked at the firm's involvement in the scheme. Outraged customers have also been bombarding H&B's Twitter and Facebook accounts with complaints. The sustained pressure has forced a u-turn, with Holland & Barrett's official facebook page announcing late last night 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."

Holland & Barrett intend to replace unpaid work placements from the Job Center with a salaried apprentice scheme. The Solidarity Federation will keep a close eye on Holland & Barrett and meet any backsliding with renewed direct action, but for now we are celebrating a victory against unpaid work. As a revolutionary union initiative made up of workers and claimants, the Solidarity Federation sees workfare as an attack on all workers by undermining pay and conditions. For example, staff at Holland & Barrett told us that overtime was no longer available in some stores as it was being done by unpaid workfare labour instead.

We will now support the national week of action called by the Boycott Workfare Network against remaining workfare firms before meeting to discuss the next steps.

Solidarity Federation - Brighton Local (workfare working group)

Posted By

Jim Clarke
Jul 7 2012 18:15


  • As a revolutionary union initiative made up of workers and claimants, the Solidarity Federation sees workfare as an attack on all workers by undermining pay and conditions.

    Solidarity Federation - Brighton Local (workfare working group)

Attached files


Jim Clarke
Jul 7 2012 18:22

Thought this deserved it's own story on here so have reposted the excellent statement from Brighton SF's workfare working group. This should now be picked up by google news.

Some more mainstream news coverage, including some quotes from yours truly (any similarity to the above statement is purely co-incidental).

Guardian - http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2012/jul/06/holland-and-barrett-jobseekers-scheme?newsfeed=true

PA - http://www.google.com/hostednews/ukpress/article/ALeqM5g-r085z_rki8Shs3BA796h3CBt9g?docId=N0036951341577483041A

New Statesman - http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/politics/2012/07/workfare-goes-underground-holland-and-barrett-pull-out

Independent - http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/firm-leaves-state-scheme-after-threats-7920785.html

One of the highlights of this victory is the farcical response from Chris Grayling:

"It is a disgrace that anyone should seek to target a company that is trying to help young unemployed people in this way. The people involved in these protests have absolutely no idea of the damage they're doing to the job prospects of the next generation. I'm determined to stand up firmly against these protesters; what they're doing is totally unacceptable."
Jul 7 2012 20:31

Well done!

Jul 7 2012 23:12

Congrats on everyone's hardwork!

Jul 8 2012 14:51

thanks those groups that held pickets in places where SF do not have locals ! (Lincoln Underground Collective amongst others)

klas batalo
Jul 8 2012 16:45

awesome, great work! nice to see you guys got a bunch of mainstream press too that is generally favorable!

Jul 9 2012 01:25

Great stuff. Lovely to see SolFed's voice on mainstream media websites!

Jul 10 2012 18:43


Jul 10 2012 19:04


Awesome Dude
Jul 10 2012 19:13

Fantastiic stuff comrades. Congrats to solfed for their part. Seems there's some good momentum amoungst radical (libertarian) workplace orientated groups in the UK (Sol-Fed & IWW).

Hope to see an IWA contingent at the IWW cleaners picket outside the John Lewis flagship shop. There'll be organised groups going in the morning at 8pm, 1pm lunch time and 5pm (times may change will confirm with strike oragnisers).

A Wotsit
Jul 10 2012 19:32

Mad props yo. For the win!