Wednesday, 29 August 2007

Uk Report on Starbucks ' protest

UK action against Starbucks

IWW organizing expands throughout UK, Europe.

By Diane Krauthamer

On August 18, the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) and No Sweat held a successful National Day of Action against Starbucks, with demonstrations in ten cities throughout the UK, including Glasgow, Leeds, Edinburgh, Leicester and London.

Keywords: Starbucks Union, National, Human Rights, Labor, Corporations,

London protest
Despite Starbucks’ international union-busting attempts, workers and their supporters are telling the company that they are not backing down. Increased organizing and support is growing like wildfire throughout Europe and the U.S., and this past weekend proved once again that the struggle is far from over.

On August 18, 2007, the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) and No Sweat held a successful National Day of Action against Starbucks, with demonstrations in ten cities across the UK, including Glasgow, Leeds, Edinburgh, Leicester and London.

Although the company has more than 500 stores with over 5,000 workers and continues to expand in the UK, management is growing nervous as negative publicity surrounding their unfair labor practices increases regionally.

In London, small groups spent the morning distributing informational leaflets to baristas at both Starbucks and Caffé Nero, another major UK coffee chain with working conditions that parallel those of Starbucks. Starbucks baristas are paid just above the minimum wage and are subject to excessive working hours and unpaid overtime. Additionally, baristas must work at a relentless pace, resulting in repetitive strain injuries.

By 2 PM, the groups convened in front of the New Oxford Street Starbucks, a busy shopping district in the central city. More than 30 people spent the windy Saturday afternoon protesting and distributing information to customers, workers and onlookers. In addition to the dozens of protesters, undercover police officers and regional management also made a presence at the event. Two police officers were spotted across the street from the demo, illegally taking photos of individuals from the IWW and No Sweat.

One of the managers, wearing a beige sweater as a feeble attempt to conceal his company t-shirt, sat inside the store “reading a newspaper” while keeping the protest under surveillance. When I asked him if he was there to protest, he said he just wanted to make sure that nothing would “get out of hand.” He admitted that the company had already known about the protest beforehand, despite the fact that the protest location was only communicated over email, and not made public.

The manager asked if we were planning any other demonstrations, and when everyone packed up to go home, he followed the group down the street.

As Starbucks' headquarters in Seattle is advising regional management in the UK to embark on campaigns of surveillance and intimidation—as they have done in the U.S., France and Germany—workers are not backing down. Many baristas showed interest in joining the union, and many potential customers turned away from the store when they received information about the company’s practices. Continued harassment is evidence that the company who sets the world's coffee industry standard feels threatened by the power of radical unionizing and solidarity that continues to expand across international borders

By Diane Krauthamer

Monday, 20 August 2007

Glasgow Starbucks protest

Good protest around the starbucks stores on saturday
in spite of the rain.
Rattled some of the managers and i think got some of
the workers thinking about the issues of unionisation
and starbucks not being the company it makes itself out to be.
Think next time the coffe sirens film should be distributed
to more workers and we should ask to meet up with individuals
to discuss the issues raised in the film.


Tuesday, 14 August 2007

Starbucks Glasgow Sat 18th

Joint No Sweat /IWW UK Wide protest Sat 18th

Meet outside Starbucks this Saturday at foot of Sauchiehall street 1pm .

Leaflets above -make copies and bring.

Perhaps Edinburgh Comrades could organise a protest at Starbucks

there ?


Sunday, 5 August 2007

Starbucks Briefing

No Sweat Scotland and the IWW are organising a protest in Glasgow
on Saturday 18th August - Look out for details here

International unions
Starbucks No Sweat briefing notes
No Sweat briefing on Starbucks

August 2007

Starbucks – global corporation

Starbucks is the world's largest coffee chain. Founded in the early 1970s in the United States (US), last year its annual global turnover was $7.8bn (£3.9bn). Starbucks announced in October 2006 its long-term expansion target of 40,000 outlets around the world, more than triple the existing number.

Starbucks opened its first store in London in September 1998, on the King's Road, Chelsea. It opened its 500th outlet in the UK in July 2006. The company announced in January this year that it aimed to open a new store in London every fortnight for the next decade.

Exploiting workers

Over 100,000 people worldwide - known as “partners” – work for Starbucks. More than 5,000 people work for Starbucks in the UK.

Starbucks workers in the US earn as little $6-$8 per hour depending on the location. Every single barista in the US is part-time and not guaranteed any work hours per week. For example, a Starbucks worker can get 35 hours of work one week, 22 hours the week after, and 10 hours the following week. In Britain baristas get a little over the minimum wage – in other words poverty pay.

Meanwhile Starbucks CEO Jim Donald awarded himself a $2.5 million (£1.25m) bonus in 2004. Its highest paid UK director got £452,000 in 2005.

Starbucks baristas work at a relentless pace to meet extraordinary customer demands. The Starbucks work environment is also full of ergonomic hazards, resulting in repetitive strain injuries for many workers.

Workers report that they are often bullied by managers. Schedules are often made without consideration for workers’ needs. In the US, Starbucks requires workers to call around the city to get a shift covered when ill or in bereavement.

Starbucks anti-union activity

In 2004, the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) began an organising campaign in Starbucks in the US, forming the Starbucks Workers Union (SWU). In 2006 the union took the company to the US National Labor Relations Board for anti-union activity and victimising union members. Yet within months, it sacked another union organiser Daniel Gross.

The SWU alleges that the coffee giant: unlawfully fired two IWW baristas in retaliation for union activity; illegally disciplined workers for discussing the union during and after work; threatened, issued negative performance reviews, and suspended workers for supporting the union.

Exploiting coffee growers

According to the Guardian newspaper, coffee growers receive little more than $1.10 (50p) for a pound of coffee, which is then sold for $160 (£80).

Oxfam launched a campaign against Starbucks in October 2006 after it effectively blocked Ethiopia's attempts to trademark its coffee beans in the United States. Around 90,000 people wrote to chief executive Jim Donald to complain. Starbucks put out a video on the website YouTube, which said it would be illegal for the Ethiopians to trademark their beans Sidamo and Harar in the US since they are geographical regions which cannot be trademarked there.

Starbucks and the Ethiopian farmers signed a marketing, licensing and distribution deal in May 2007. It quit its campaign against the African country's farmers being allowed to trademark in the US the names of their highest quality beans

Union fightback

By April 2007, the SWU had a public organised presence at nine Starbucks stores spanning four states and Starbucks baristas in several other states.

In New York City, SWU members have won important victories:

* Four city-wide wage increases from $7.75 to $8.75 per hour and $9.63 for many workers after six months on the job
* More consistent scheduling of hours
* The right to wear union pins (badges)
* Significantly reducing unsafe rat and insect infestation in stores
* Reduced repetitive strain injuries

Similar gains have been won by SWU members in Chicago.

In November 2005, Starbucks workers in Auckland, New Zealand staged a one-hour protest about low wages for staff working in the fast-food sector. This was the first ever strike by Starbucks workers. The strike was part of the SuperSizeMyPay.Com campaign. It included more than 30 Starbucks workers from 10 different Auckland stores, joined by about 150 supporters and staff from KFC, Pizza Hut and McDonalds.

Starbucks are workers getting organised in France and Germany. The IWW is helping Starbucks workers set up their own union in Britain too. No Sweat supports the campaign and wants activists to help the unionising drive wherever there is a Starbucks or similar coffee shop.


IWW Starbucks Workers Union

Baristas United