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Andalusian union in new supermarket protest raid

Activists carry out back-to-school 'shopping' for impoverished families

Ten shopping carts filled with school materials were “expropriated” from a Carrefour supermarket in Seville, in the latest protest carried out by the Andalusian Workers’ Union (SAT).

Around 200 activists raided the supermarket at 11am on Friday and took materials including pencils, erasers, markers, notebooks and pens, which they say will be distributed to “families in need” in the next few days.

The protest is the latest in a series of similar poverty-protest operations carried out by SAT. Last summer the group led raids on a number of supermarkets, filling shopping carts with food and staple items, with the intention of giving them to NGOs. Juan Manuel Sánchez Gordillo, the leftist so-called “Robin Hood mayor” of Marinaleda in Seville province, was absent on Friday after participating in many of the group’s previous raids.

SAT spokesman Diego Cañamero said: “We spoke to the shopping mall security staff and told them not to intervene, that it was a union protest action, and that it was not going to create problems, and that’s how it was. It went perfectly.”

“With this action, SAT aims to draw attention to the situation of two million Andalusian men and women in poverty and the 400,000 families that do not receive any type of help or benefit and in which all the family members are unemployed,” a SAT statement read. The union argues that the cost of kitting children out for the start of the school year can be between 100 and 150 euros. The Socialist-run Andalusian administration’s policy of providing school textbooks free means that the outlay for parents is, in fact, lower than in many other regions.

The approximate cost of the materials taken by the group of 30 union members, who entered the supermarket in pairs, is around 2,000 euros. The police arrived as the protestors were leaving, and there were no arrests.

Cañamero negotiated with the manager of the supermarket to ask if he would consider treating the haul as a donation. The group said at midday Friday that they were still waiting to find out if the store was going to press charges or not.

Sources at the Interior Ministry say that they will act “with firmness” and will proceed to identify, detain and bring to court all the perpetrators.