Has the time come to boycott the SSG bookshops?
Thus far I have resisted an outright call for a boycott, simply because I have not wanted to risk damage to the jobs and livelihoods of those who, against the odds, have somehow managed to keep on working under the Brewers’ regime.
Back in December 2006 Dave Walker summed this up well when Joe, one of his respondents, suggested a boycott:
I think we should continue to support SPCK shops for the following reasons:
- I think the good the shops and the books sold through them do outweighs the strange and dubious objectives of the owners.
- I want to support the staff, some of whom I know.
- I suspect that once this chain is gone it really is gone and I can’t see anything similar replacing it. At least if we continue to support SPCK there remains the chance that it will be taken over by someone we are able to support more wholeheartedly.
That was then, however; this is now. Reports indicate that neither staff nor suppliers are being paid: so where is the money entering those few shops that are still trading going?
Have we reached the point where any money paid to buy goods from these shops can no longer be regarded as supporting either the beleaguered staff or the shops’ suppliers but must rather be seen as simply propping up a thoroughly discredited and disreputable regime? Has the point finally come when so much damage has been done by the Brewers themselves that this call must now be made?
Calls to boycott have already been issued: Mark Tiddy posted his Boycott The SSG (SPCK) a couple of months ago (his post is dated 2006 due to a bug in his blogging software), and, more recently, this comment from Maggi Dawn echoes something of my own feelings:
While in the short term in might be harsh for those who have been offered “employment” by these new companies there is one very simple response that the Christian community can make to these events – resolve not to buy anything from these new shops and encourage others to boycott. We have plenty of alternatives run by people and companies of integrity, who for all their difficulties in a tricky market at least treat their staff with justice. The Church hierarchies can also make sure that no further deals are done with SSG about buildings etc – with luck they might just get the message and return to the US before they do more damage to the reputation of Orthodox Christianity.
The time, surely, has come to say:
Boycott the SSG/ENC Bookshops!
— Phil Groom
(Updated 3/7/2008 to correct the date of Mark Tiddy’s call for a boycott: see comments below)