Wednesday, 22 October 2014

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.’

Readers' comments (24)

  • Starbucks = pay little tax
    Activist = who have time to spend drinking coffee (and not working) pay little tax.

    Therefore both are as bad as each other although starbucks to a greater %.

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  • Chris

    I wonder how they would occupy Google?

    As so much of 'corporate Britain' is in the Starbucks category (foreign owned with offshore accounting) the occupy potential is vast!

    Perhaps they could also start occupying the homes of Tory funders, but then the air fares to get to them might be an issue!!

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  • Melvin Bone

    'Perhaps they could also start occupying the homes of Tory funders'
    Are you advocating criminal action again Chris?

    Starbucks is a case of Tax Avoidance vs Tax Evasion. Some laws/loopholes need to be changed.

    In Starbucks they ask you your name and shout out that name when your brew is ready. Some wags are going in and saying they are 'taxpaying citizen' or the like. There may be potential for mischief there...

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  • Joe Halewood

    MB - Is occupying a property belonging to a corporate squatting and therefore criminal?

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  • Melvin Bone

    It is now...

    I'm not sure anyone should advocate breaking into someones home though.

    Do you?

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  • Seriously the problem with this witch hunt on big corporate business legally avoiding tax is that it’s not as black and white as many would like it to be. Take our favourite burger restaurant and get them to pay 20% UK corporation tax and see there expansion plans and jobs (although I’d have more sympathy with them if they paid their staff the living wage) go down the pan. They employ 90,000. I’d say it is jobs or 20% corporation tax, not both. You can’t have your cake and eat it! So which way do these activists want it?

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  • Eric Blair

    @AJM Arms dealers and criminals use similar arguments to the one you've just put forward. 'Well, if we actually behaved decently we'd have to sack people and gosh, people would suffer.' On the other hand they could be made to operate with probity like MOST of us.

    Some things are simply unacceptable and claiming generally, businesses which are run ethically last longer. I don't think the Co-op would buy into your philosophy of the end justifying the means.

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  • Melvin Bone

    On a seperate note this is not really 'news' yet is it?

    It is something that is proposed to happen...

    I hope they don't protest in my Starbucks. I'd choke on my latte if they did...*


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  • AJM, I think the use of the word 'restaurant' might be pushing it a little!

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  • Whilst not condoning breaking law, our complascent society can do with a bit of shaking from protesting groups - much as that triggering the social changes in the 1960s, and 70s.

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