Activists who claim that Vodafone are shirking their tax responsibilities brought their message to the company’s Falmouth store on Saturday.
Volunteers from anti-austerity group UK Uncut staged a protest outside the Market Street store on June 14 as part of a nationwide plan to occupy the company’s shops and transform them into housing, to highlight what they say is the government’s failure to provide homes, while claiming that Vodafone still owes taxes from a deal struck in 2011.
The group, who were joined by town councillor David Saunby, brought a ‘fat cat banker’, sang songs, and handed out over 1,000 leaflets in a four hour demonstration.
Protestor Michelle Kent, of Cornwall Uncut, said she went to the day of action, “because the housing crisis is not the fault of the homeless, not the fault of the bedroom tax victims and not the fault of people waiting on housing lists.”
She said: “We had a fantastic response from the public. I saw less than six customers over the course of the afternoon, a brilliant result for us.
“There were only a few of us there but you don’t have to be a braying mob to achieve a result, like we did on Saturday.”
The protestors didn’t enter the shop, which had security at the front door, and on its Facebook page the group described both the guard and the shop staff as “wonderful”.
A spokesperson for Vodafone said there had been no more than ten demonstrators outside the Falmouth branch, and there had been no impact on the store’s trading.
They said: "We closed two shops, out of the 364 we have across the country, for a brief period on Saturday. There was no impact on our UK trading overall.
"This was a pointless protest directed at the wrong target. We have never avoided any UK tax. Instead, we are investing massively in our UK network, (more than £1 billion this year alone) and creating hundreds of new UK jobs, as every penny of our UK profit is invested back into our UK business.
"Those massive investments are offset against corporation tax under standard allowances used by all businesses, big and small. We also paid £275m in other UK direct taxes last year."The protestors just don't understand the facts and show no interest in listening to an explanation of the truth. Their attacks were ignorant, deeply unfair and completely undeserved.”
Vodafone readily says that it pays little or no corporation tax in the UK, but claims that this is due to the tax being levied on profits and the UK being one of the company’s least profitable markets.