Make The Most Of Now – Fight The Cuts

1 11 2010

On Saturday October 30th activists demonstrated against vodafone due to their tax dodging ways, and successfully shut their main central bristol store for the day.
This was part of a national day of action which saw vodafone stores closed from London to Leeds!

After a rather hasty and (sort of) secret call out sent only a little over 24 hours before the planned start of the action, we wern’t sure how many people to expect as we approached the meeting point.

Fortunately around 16 activists, from the IWW, Anarchist Federation and various friends were ready and waiting in castle park. We also attracted the attention of one mounted police officer, who after watching us from a distance came over and asked what we were planning to protest and where! She had apparently been tipped off about our presence by CCTV operatives who had seen us gathering with placards. After the appalling actions by the police on the anticuts march we didn’t really think we wanted anymore of their ‘facilitation’ of our demonstrations and the only response to the question was “Whats your horses name?”.

Unfortunately someone then came up to the group and said “Hi is this the vodafone protest?” at which point we decided to quickly head to the shop before the police could get there. Although in retrospect it seems the police officer was the only person who didn’t hear this, since they didn’t radio it in and looked rather confused.

It seems vodafone were expecting something to happen (it was a national day of action after all) and as soon as we approached they locked their doors. Activists lined up in front of the store, holding placards exposing their tax dodging ways and calling on people to fight the cuts. We were joined by members of socalist worker from a nearby stall (who took credit for the action for themselves on their website), protesters from the right to work group (an SWP initiated campaign group), aswell as a few latecomers and even members of the public who didn’t know about the protest until they saw it happen! We handed out around 400 leaflets, that combined with our chants and the loud reading out of the leaflet informed many shoppers of the reasons behind our action, and many a good conversation was had.

After around half an hour had passed a couple of police officers showed up, looked around and decided the best thing they could do was lock themselves inside the shop with the vodafone staff. Personally I approve of the police locking themselves inside when we take to the streets and hope they continue with this strategy.

After just over an hour numbers started to dwindle (tempted by the nearby free vegan food fair mostly!) so we headed off, however we came back several times during the afternoon to make sure they hadn’t reopened. Infact they stayed shut until the end of the day, and the protest spontaneously started again around 4pm as the Bristol zombie walk went past and several members of the undead saw us holding placards and joined us in a second brief vodafone picket, this time with much more fake blood.

The action couldn’t really have gone better! Infact we plan on repeating it next week and are publicly calling for people to join us at 1pm next saturday at the castle park bandstand or 1.30 outside vodafone in broadmead for another picket.

We think it is a great way to spread our belief that these cuts are truly unnecessary, and that we are definitely not ‘in this together’ since whilst we pay with our services and our tax bills the richest in society pay nothing. Although there has been some debate about the accuracy of the initial reporting (see http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2010/10/467056.html for example), it appears pretty conclusive that they (like most of their corporate peers) have been tax dodging to quite a large extent, and owe us at the very least around £1billiion.

See you on the streets!

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