Saturday 8th December saw over 1,000 people take part in protests at over 40 Starbucks stores across the UK.
The day of action, organised by UK Uncut, was held in response to the recently well-publicised case of Starbucks avoiding paying £millions tax in the UK. This is whilst government spending cuts are closing community centres, schools, hospitals, women’s refuges and workers are being forced to pay the brunt, with job losses, pay freezes, benefits and pensions cuts.
In a press release following the actions, UK Uncut said:
“Growing public anger at Starbucks was clear today as over 40 of their shops across the UK- including in Liverpool, Cardiff, Bristol and Shrewsbury- were targeted today by the anti-cuts direct action network, UK Uncut.
“In central London a creche and women’s refuge were set up in Starbuck’s flagship stores, and in Birmingham people slept in sleeping bags on the floor to highlight homelessness. In Barnet, activists turned Starbucks into a library, while in York protesters handed out free tea and coffee in store.
“The group took action to confront the company over its tax avoidance and highlight the impact of the government’s cuts on women. The group says that Starbucks’ offer of £10 million is a ‘PR stunt straight out of their marketing budget’.
“Starbucks and other tax-dodging companies, including Google and Amazon, have had to face increasing public outrage and stinging criticism from the Public Accounts Committee over their tax practices this week. Nearly £5 billion new cuts were announced by George Osborne on Wednesday in the Autumn Statement.
Sarah Greene, a UK Uncut activist said: “It is an outrage that the government continues to choose to let multinationals like Starbucks dodge millions in tax while cutting vital services like refuges, creches and rape crisis centres. It does not have to be this way. The government could easily bring in billions by clamping down on tax avoidance that could fund vital services by clamping down on tax dodging.”
The independent and member-led union, the IWW, has also released a new leaflet aimed at Starbucks workers, calling to organise against the buck of the tax bill being passed from the management of the company to the workforce. This follows the success of a similar organising drive in the USA, which led to the formation of the Starbucks Workers Union and a number of victories for struggling Starbucks staff.