By David Whelan

A CAMPAIGN waged by loyalists against staff at a major city centre retail outlet who are wearing wristbands in solidarity with the besieged people of Gaza will not deter them from showing their support, a North Belfast worker has said.

Some members of staff at Primark in Bank Buildings, Castle Street, said that they had been asked to remove the red, black, white and green loom bands by management, who claimed they had received over 20 complaints in just under an hour about the wristbands.

The complaints are believed to have been prompted by a loyalist online campaign urging Protestants to contact the company and object to the wristbands being worn by workers.

A statement on the ‘PUL Media’ Facebook account last Friday read: “Primark staff are able to wear pro-Palestine wristbands in work, yet the PUL [Protestant, unionist and loyalist] community who work there are not allowed to wear poppies or wear a poppy appeal wristband.

“The manager said there has not been many complaints made about it to make them stop them wearing these pro-Palestine wristbands. I ask PUL community followers to call the following number to lodge a complaint (number listed). Let’s get on the phones. No surrender.”

The local Primark worker, who did not want to be named, said that members of staff had been threatened with disciplinary proceedings and even losing their jobs but that they would nevertheless continue showing their support for the people of Gaza. We are refusing to take them off because this is not political. This is not a Northern Ireland issue, but that is what it is being dragged into.

“Some people are making this about Catholics and Protestants and we are saying no, women and children are being slaughtered in Gaza and these small bands are a symbol of our support for peace.”

The woman added that after some workers refused to take the bands off, other members of staff have joined them in a show of solidarity by wearing the bands on their keys.

Meanwhile, some contributors to the PUL Media Facebook page suggested boycotting the store until staff removed the bands or handing back goods at the till when served by a member of staff wearing a band.

A spokesperson for Primark said: “Primark understands and respects political and religious differences and seeks to support a working environment in which all colleagues are treated with respect as part of our ongoing commitments to equality and diversity. We aim to promote a harmonious store environment for our colleagues and customers. Some emblems and accessories could disrupt this harmonious store environment and we reserve the right to ask colleagues not to wear them.”

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