Activists blockaded Vodafone’s flagship store in London’s Oxford Street today (Wednesday), shutting it down all day, to highlight the corporation’s £6 billion legal tax dodge.
As featured in Socialist Worker issue 2220, the company was let off paying the £6 billion in tax – at the same time as the Tories make £7 billion of cuts to people’s benefits.
More than 50 campaigners first occupied the shop and later surrounded its entrance, keeping it completely closed for business.
They held placards with Vodafone’s logo and the phrase “tax dodgers”, and banners including one that read. “Pay your taxes, save our welfare state”. Right to Work supporters joined the protest.
Protester Alex told Socialist Worker, 'I'm a primary school teacher. We're about to lose services like our Spanish teacher and our tutor for the most disadvantaged pupils.
'It's shocking to think what Vodafone's tax money could pay for – keeping people in their jobs, their homes, paying for benefits.
'You try getting off £6,000 of your tax bill – Vodafone has got off £6 billion.
'It shows what a lie it is when the Tories say ‘we’re all in it together.’”
The protesters chanted, 'Vodafone, pay your tax' and “Cuts to welfare, you call that fair?”
Arwyn, another protester, added, “The government wants to cut public services but I don’t see any need to when they’re letting corporations get away with not paying £6 billion of tax.
“We’re here today because petitions never seem to work, no-one seems to listen. We thought we’d come and show what we think of what they’re doing by physically stopping business for the day.”
Passers-by also supported the action. One told the protesters, “I worked in the public sector all my life. What you’re doing is so important.”
Gabriele, a recently-sacked worker, also joined the protest. He said, “I was a maintenance operator in a big hotel. I’m 55 years old, and left with £70 in my pocket.
“My manager used to pick up hundreds of thousands. These fatcats grab all the money and they leave people like us with nothing.”
The protesters claimed that the occupation was not organised by any one group—that it was simply an idea and assembly point that spread on Twitter. The original message called for protesters to assemble outside the Ritz hotel in London without specifying that the target would be Vodafone.
They have now put out a call on Twitter for activists to organise occupations at Vodafone shops around the country this Saturday. And the Right to Work campaign has also called for others to follow their example.