Saturday, 23 May 2015

Activists set up camp in Starbucks

Activists from campaigning group UK Uncut will transform at least 20 branches of coffee shop giant Starbucks into refuges, homeless shelters and crèches.

The group – a grassroots movement against the government’s cuts agenda – is protesting against the impact of public spending cuts on women’s services.

On 8 December, activists across the country will bed down in their local Starbucks, highlighting the links between multinational companies that avoid paying tax in the UK and the deep cuts to public services mostly used by women.

It is not clear whether the activists will literally attempt to run services from the coffee shops, but UK Uncut said it plans to work with local women’s organisations.

Sarah Greene, a UK Uncut activist, said: ‘The government could easily bring in billions that could fund vital services by clamping down on tax dodging, but are instead making cuts that are forcing women to choose between motherhood and work, and trapping them in abusive relationships.’

Another activist, Sheena Shah, added: ‘Women have had enough of being attacked by a cabinet of out of touch millionaire men. The government’s savage austerity plans are pushing the cause of women’s equality back decades. Welfare, healthcare, Sure Start centres, childcare, rape and domestic abuse services are being cut and female unemployment is rocketing.’

The event is timed two days after the chancellor’s autumn statement, which UK Uncut expects to herald another round of austerity cuts.

Starbucks has denied claims of tax avoidance in the UK, which surfaced after a Reuters investigation. In a blog post, the firm’s chief executive, chairman and president, Howard Schultz, said: ‘Since we entered the UK market in 1998, we have consistently paid all taxes as required. Over the last three years alone, our company has paid more than £160 million in various taxes, including National Insurance contributions, VAT and business rates.’

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