Originally this story was posted on #WorkMustPay – 01/08/2015

Yesterday, the 31st of July,  #WorkMustPay targeted Celebrations Party Shop on Middle Abbey Street. We had previously sent out a warning email but received no reply. On this protest the #WorkMustPay team received the most aggressive response from the business we had ever encountered, culminating in a physical assault of two members of the team. #WorkMustPay’s protests are always peaceful in nature; we use chants, placards, leaflets and discussion to get our point across. We have never resorted to violence and were shocked to encounter such aggression.

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Instead of lobbying politicians and hoping for a change in policy, we challenge employers who profits from the use of free JobBridge labour. Our protests are used to encourage employers to take down any current JobBridge adverts, take on no further interns and commit to the basic respect of a day’s work = a day’s pay for future employees.

#WorkMustPay had been outside the premises of Celebrations Party Shop for approx. 5 minutes when the owner came out to speak to us. The spokesperson was invited in to the shop to discuss the protest but when the owner became verbally abusive, shutting down any hope of reaching any agreement, the spokesperson rejoined the team outside. Not long afterwards the owner stood outside the shop and once again became verbally abusive, using sexist language and making threats. The team ignored him as best they could and continued chanting and leafleting. We received much welcome support from passers-by who witnessed this all taking place.

After a number of very positive interactions with interested pedestrians, the owner of the business re-emerged and attempted to physically attack the youngest member of protest. Two other protest members separated the owner from the group only to be assaulted by him themselves. People on the street and the #WorkMustPay team were shocked by this escalation, with several suggesting that the owner should be reported.

When the Gardai, whom the owner called, arrived the team was further berated by them with questions like “Do you not have jobs to go to?” making it very clear that even after an elderly gentleman had stated that the shop owner was the one who needed to be arrested for assault, the Gardai were unwilling to listen to anyone but the business owner.

#WorkMustPay have a right, as does any member of the public, to protest and to be free from verbal and physical assault while doing so. The reaction of the Gardai highlight that this is not an isolated incident but indicative of a much larger issue; the erosion of the right to protest. #WorkMustPay will not stand by and allow bulling and harassment to silence us.

#WorkMustPay demands an end to JobBridge, an end to free labour schemes and an end to the exploitation of workers, young and old. We call on activists to join in our campaign and demand that work pays a living wage! Please contact us atworkmustpayireland@gmail.com if you would like to be notified of future pickets. You can also find us on facebook and twitter.

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