Press release: UK Uncut continues to pressure Starbucks over impact of government cuts on women

Posted on Fri 7th Dec 2012, 1:09pm
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UK Uncut continues to pressure Starbucks over impact of government cuts on women

Over 44 protests across the UK planned for Starbucks stores this weekend, as public anger increases.

Protestors plan to transform Starbucks into refuges, crèches and homeless shelters in protest against impact of government’s cuts on women.

Public anger continues to grow against Starbucks, despite the coffee company desperately attempting to distract people from their tax dodging. [1] Anti-cuts direct action network UK Uncut report that the number of protests planned for this weekend have increased since the tax announcement released by the cowering corporation. [2]

Women’s groups [3] and local UK Uncut groups from Glasgow to Belfast to Portsmouth will be participating in their biggest national day of action yet on Saturday 8th December, targeting Starbucks coffee stores in protest against the government’s spending cuts that are hurting women. Starbucks and other tax-dodging corporations, including Google and Amazon, face increasing public outrage and stinging criticism from the Public Accounts Committee over recent exposes of their abusive tax practices. [4]

Protestors have chosen to target Starbucks as a result of its tax avoidance- taxes they claim could fund public services currently being cut by the government. Saturday’s action will see Starbucks stores transformed into refuges, crèches and homeless shelters to highlight the disproportionate impact of the government’s spending cuts on women. The action will take place on Saturday 8th December, three days after the Chancellor’s autumn statement when further spending cuts of £3.7bn to welfare were announced. [5]

Sarah Greene, a UK Uncut activist said: “It is an outrage that the government continues 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 that could fund vital services by clamping down on tax dodging.”

Responding to Starbucks’ announcement that it will not claim tax deductions in the UK on a range of its tax arrangements, Hannah Pearce, a UK Uncut supporter said:

“Offering to pay some tax if and when it suits you doesn’t stop you being a tax dodger. This is just a desperate attempt by Starbucks to deflect public pressure- hollow promises on press releases don’t fund women’s refuges or child benefits."

“We need the government to force Starbucks and every other tax dodging company to pay their fair share, instead of cutting welfare and tax credits for single mums and disabled women. People are angry, this weekend 44 actions will take place in Starbucks stores in towns and cities in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. People will be transforming Starbucks stores into refuges, crèches and other services threatened by the Government’s unjust and unnecessary cuts.”

A spokesperson from Global Women’s strike, one of the women’s groups supporting Saturday’s action said:

“Women – in families, homes, communities and jobs – bear the brunt of austerity. At our Women’s Centre we see more women cut off benefits, losing their jobs, being made homeless and going hungry. Already, 3.5m children live in poverty, 1 in 5 mothers skips a meal to feed her children, and many walk miles to get food handouts because they can’t afford the bus fare. Women are also expected to pick up the pieces as services disappear or turn people away, saying they are overwhelmed. Asylum seekers were the first to be made destitute, and this is now becoming the norm. Victims of rape and domestic violence are particularly affected as more will be forced to stay in violent relationship to keep a roof over their heads.”

Starbucks has come under fire after a Reuters investigation disclosed that the company had paid no UK corporation tax in the last three years, despite reporting sales of £1.2bn. [6] The company was also reported to have filed accounts saying the companies UK operations were making a loss, while reporting strong UK profits to investors.

Campaigners have highlighted research showing that women will experience a disproportionate impact as a result of the government’s public spending cuts. [7] Women are bearing the brunt of cuts to public sector jobs, wages, housing benefit, childcare, and pensions. [8] Additional hardship on women is being caused by the government’s decision to cut £5.6m from violence against women services, £300m from Sure Start centres and a further £10 billion in benefit cuts. Every day 230 women are turned away from refuges as a result of the government’s cuts to women’s services. [9]

Sheena Shah, a UK Uncut activist said “Women have had enough of being attacked by a cabinet of out of touch millionaires. 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. Benefits cuts are forcing women to choose between heating the house and feeding the family. No one should have to make these choices.”

ENDS

1 – http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2012/dec/06/starbucks-to-pay-10m-corporation-tax

2 – UK Uncut is a grassroots anti-cuts direct action network, well-known for targeting corporate tax avoiders: ukuncut.org.uk

3 – Go Feminist, UK Feminista, Southall Black Sisters, Global Women’s Strike – ukfeminista.org.uk www.southallblacksisters.org.uk www.globalwomenstrike.net

4 – http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newsvideo/uk-politics-video/9718420/MPs-demand-action-over-Starbucks-Amazon-and-Google-tax-avoidance.html

5 – http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/budget/9725613/Autumn-Statement-2012-Osborne-slashes-3.7bn-from-welfare.html

6 – http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/10/15/us-britain-starbucks-tax-idUSBRE89E0EX20121015

7 – http://www.tuc.org.uk/extras/Gender_Impact_of_the_Cuts.pdf & http://fawcettsociety.org.uk/documents/The%20Impact%20of%20Austerity%20on%20Women%20-%2019th%20March%202012.pdf

8- http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/10/31/domestic-violence-rape-crisis-cuts_n_2049137.html

9- http://www.insidehousing.co.uk/care/charities-have-to-turn-away-women-seeking-refuge/6520815.article & http://www.fawcettsociety.org.uk/index.asp?PageID=1237