Manchester shop staff hold their own protest over Kedem demonstrations
Cllr Pat Karney with protesting retail workers in Manchester today (Photo: Jonathan Kalmus)
Retailers in Manchester are calling on police to move protesters away from city centre shops because the disruption is causing the loss of thousands of pounds worth of business.
Pro-Palestinian activists have been demonstrating outside Kedem, an Israeli cosmetics store, since the Gaza conflict began.
They have been met by strong counter-protests from Israel supporters. At the weekend, police were called in to prevent the two sides clashing.
Other nearby outlets, including fashion store H&M, Marks and Spencer and Barclays Bank, have also been targeted and customers are staying away over fears of intimidation.
Today shop workers held their own protest, urging that the demonstrators be moved away.
Patrick Mukadi, manager of Dalvey menswear shop, said his store had lost £25,000 in business, and staff had been threatened when protesters refused to remove a sign blocking a window.
“Last Saturday and Sunday were catastrophic. We didn't make money because protesters wouldn't move from outside our shop. People are going to lose their jobs. We've complained to the police and our head office has made a complaint to the council,” Mr Mukadi said.
Manager of a nearby clothing retailer, Martine Eastwood, said her shop lost £10,000 on Saturday, when boycotters held a march which shut Manchester's equivalent of Oxford Street.
“At one point we had to usher two members of the public out of our staff entrance when the atmosphere got threatening. We then had to close,” she said.
Manchester city centre councillor, Pat Karney, who supported the protesting shop workers, said pro-Palestinian activists had targeted “five premises on Market Street and King Street, particularly this H&M clothing shop. It's actually a Swedish company, but because they've opened a store in Tel Aviv the accusation is that they are part of the Israeli military machine.”
He added: “We've got to balance the human rights of quite a few people here. Manchester has a history of protests, and you do that in Piccadilly Gardens where you can have rallies and meetings and whatever protests you want. But you don't interfere with the human rights of people who want to work, and have the right to earn their living. The police have got to come up with a plan to take their human rights into account as well.”