South Africa: BDS campaign declare success in Woolsworth boycott
Activists and organisers from the Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) Campaign in South Africa have announced an end to the two year long #BoycottWoolworths campaign. The #BoycottWoolworths campaign was launched in August 2014 by a wide cross section of groups, and called for the complete boycott of Woolworths due to its Israeli trade relations. The organisers believe the campaign has achieved several goals, and have announced the end of the blanket boycott of Woolworths to broaden the campaign to now target all Israeli products in any store in South Africa.
The #BoycottWoolworths campaign, unlike any other consumer boycott before it, had the widespread success of bringing the BDS boycott of Israel into people's homes and lives; it took an abstract concept and made it a real campaign for many families across the length and breadth of South Africa. It involved school pupils taking a stand (click here http://tinyurl.com/hj762qu) to parents adopting family “dinner time resolutions”.
Another achievement of the campaign was the undertaking, and subsequent affirmation by Woolworths at its recent AGM, that it will not purchase any Israeli goods from the occupied Palestinian territories. The campaign also exposed Woolworths for its false labelling of Israeli products which led to a national industry-wide investigation by the Consumer Commission (http://www.fin24.com/Companies/Retail/Woolworths-complaint-sparks-label-trade-probe-20151029).
In a first for South Africa, activists also turned to large scale shareholder activism having bought several individual shares in the company. This allowed activists to attend two Woolworth AGM’s and take the company to task on various issues including its trade with Israel and other related issues such as labour exploitation by the company and local procurement (click here http://tinyurl.com/h3uabgk or here http://www.iol.co.za/business/companies/woolworths-directors-grilled-at-agm-1953166)
The campaign saw some of the best from activists and community members in the form of creative protest like regular flashmobs (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_6Y-oHEw61U&list=PL_FuAw3qkivow_Li9JWKSI-OhlmU21A68&index=4 ) and till-jams (http://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/Local/South-Coast-Fever/Till-jam-protest-at-Woolworths-20150902) to the Pharrell Williams spoof video that went viral on various online platforms (http://citizen.co.za/video_of_the_day/pharrell-williams-boycottwoolworths-spoof-video-goes-viral/).