Why I am boycotting Tesco’s

I think the first thing that needs to be said here is that I am always extremely wary about boycottism as a tactic. The fact is that too often innocents are the real ones who suffer from a boycott because those in power simply push the pain on their long-suffering underlings. Boycottism should therefore, in my eyes, be a tactic that is used sparingly and in quite narrowly defined circumstances – those where the potential pluses outweigh the potentially huge minuses. In some ways, I feel the left has become over-fond of reaching for the boycott and this indicates a wrong-headed move to consumer as opposed to producer-led activism caused by the weakness of producer collective organisations ie, the trade unions.

We need to remember that it is the owners of Tesco’s who made the lamentable decision to participate in the governments ‘workfare’ scheme. Ordinary workers at Tesco’s had nothing to do with this decision and indeed will suffer through it as this army of slave labour is used to undermine their pay and conditions. They are our natural allies and an immediate priority of the boycottist movement must be a dialogue with USDAW, the main union representing workers at Tesco’s.

So, why support this boycott? Primarily the reason is strategic – it should be a given that I morally support the cause of the boycottists. The governments workfare program has already suffered a series of high-profile withdrawals; a forced withdrawal by  would be the death-blow to a barbaric program. Thus I have decided the regrettable side-effects of a boycott are worth it, this time.

So, I would urge everybody reading this to join the boycott. Furthermore I would urge Ed Miliband to underscore his commitment to ‘responsible capitalism’ and join this campaign – let now be a moment when his deeds match his words. Forced labour with no pay has no place in a so-called modern and civilised and democratic nation and Tesco’s and the government must be made to realise that.

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About darrellgoodliffe

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