Baristas united

Unite launches campaign to increase coffee sector pay and conditions

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The UK’s leading union for hospitality workers, Unite, has Starbucks, Costa, Café Nero and Pret a Manger in its sights as it demands better jobs, pay and conditions for café workers.

Despite the sector pulling in £5.6 billion in revenue this year, low pay, under staffing and inconsistent hours are rife across the sector.

Unite’s organising campaign, Baristas United, will target the ‘Big Four’ coffee chains in over 50 UK towns and cities on 17 November to coincide with action from Starbucks workers in the US.

A London demonstration will take place on November 17 from 3pm at Starbucks, 112-116 New Oxford St, London WC1A 1HH.

Unite lead organiser for hospitality, Bryan Simpson, said, “For too long baristas and cafe workers have suffered from some of the lowest pay and most insecure contracts in the British economy. Baristas from across the country face poverty pay, inconsistent hours and chronic understaffing – even though their employers continue to rake in huge profits.

“Our campaign aims to change that. By bringing together workers from across the coffee sector’s Big Four, we will develop organising strategies that seek to drive up standards across the sector by making and winning collective demands for a real living wage, guaranteed hours and an end to chronic understaffing.”

As well as to support workers in the UK coffee industry, the campaign has been launched in solidarity with Starbucks workers in the US. The US workers are taking action to win vastly improved pay and conditions through their union Starbucks Workers United.

Bryan Simpson said, “As one of the richest corporations in the world, Starbucks does everything it can to stop workers in the US from collectively demanding the pay and conditions they deserve. We are sending a message to them and the other big chains that they will not get away with this here and that our members are ready and willing to collectively demand better.”

Edith Saldano, from Starbucks Workers United, added, “Starbucks union busting tactics have not slowed us down, we have created a mass movement with a customer base and solidarity organisations to back us up. Our message to Starbucks is that the working class will forever be the most decisive in pushing for change. You cannot stop us. We are united, not only in the United States but clearly internationally.”

By Ryan Fletcher