Saturday, April 3, 2010

Popular protests, boycott threat & free shoppers' bus wins victory

Community action saves Mangere East post office

At the picket of the Mangere East Countdown store, community activist, Roger Fowler, receives unanimous support for a boycott and free shuttle service to a rival supermarket. Photo credit Manukau Courier.

When food giant Progressive Enterprises served an eviction notice on the Mangere East Post Office recently, they didn’t factor in the united outrage of the local community.

Progressive have a grand plan to demolish the Mangere East shops they own and build a bigger Countdown store on the site. Their four-weeks eviction notice on their neighbour was to be their first move.

When local residents found out, they called an urgent meeting at the community hall. Over 250 turned up to campaign to save their Post Office & Kiwibank, and set about organising a series of protest actions. Mangere MP Su’a William Sio, several city councillors, community & church leaders and the Mangere Community Board swung in behind the campaign. The walls of the shopping centre were plastered with well-read daily wall-newspapers with updates on the campaign. A community petition attracted over 6000 signatures.

Over 200 angry locals picketed the Countdown store and loudly endorsed a plan to boycott Countdown and run a free shoppers’ bus service to the rival Pak ‘N Save store in Mangere. The community centre offered their bus for a half-hourly free shuttle service.

After the rowdy lunchtime protest the Post Office manager received an email from Progressive bosses agreeing to drop the eviction notice, and offered a public apology and to meet with protest leaders. At that meeting the company also agreed to on-going consultations with the protesters regarding their development plans, and to offer the Post Office a prime position in the new Countdown store.

Progressive, is renowned for being arrogant & stubborn – remember their infamous lock out three years ago. But after just two weeks of concerted community protest action they were forced to back down.

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