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Would you like germs with that? Starbucks & workers’ rights
Not content using a range of legal tax loopholes to avoid paying corporation tax in the UK, it has been revealed that coffee megachain Starbucks are to cut paid lunch breaks, sick leave and maternity benefits for their 7,000 coffee-shop workers in the UK.
MPs found it hard to believe that over the past 13 years they have paid just £8.6 million on sales of £3.1 billion and in 14 of the 15 years it has operated in the UK, Starbucks has claimed an operating loss. All this while the company enjoyed a 31% market share by turnover and had briefed shareholders the UK business was making 15% profits. The GMB has been working with UK Uncut to keep this scandal in the public eye.
Now they have sunk to new lows by telling staff that they are no longer to be paid for their half hour break every day, they will no longer receive sick pay for the first day off sick.
For Starbucks workers, this means a big cut in pay (bearing in mind they are predominantly low paid) and they are far more likely to force themselves to come into work when they are ill, leading to a much greater risk of them spreading infections to both other staff and customers.
However not all benefits are being cut. The Guardian reports that staff who complete five years of service will continue to receive a pen and the right to take four weeks off (without pay of course).
It should be no surprise that companies that treat their workers like rubbish, try to avoid union recognition and pay low wages are also those that are the worst tax-dodgers.
Unionised companies on the other hand are less likely to get away with slashing pay, they will also be safer and have less grievances and disciplinaries. So if you do ever find yourself in a Starbucks, please don’t take your frustration about their tax dodging out on the workers, instead take some union application forms with you. In the long run they will do a lot more good.