BRITAIN – Hundreds of protesters rallied at Starbucks cafes across the UK on Saturday in protest over the US coffee chain’s three-year non-payment of corporation tax.
Reutersreports that the demonstrators are up in arms because the British government is currently cutting essential social services due to decreased revenues.
At one Starbucks cafe, members of the anti-tax avoidance group “UK Uncut” staged a sit-in and chanted “Starbucks pay your taxes” before police moved them on.
Protests took place at over 40 Starbucks cafes and follows Starbucks’ recent decision to pay approximately £20 million ($32 million) in British corporation tax over the next two years by way of recompense.
That decision came after weeks of criticism in the media and parliament following a Reutersreport which revealed Starbucks had paid no corporation tax in Britain over the past three years.
One “UK Uncut” activist, Rosie Rogers, said Starbucks’ tax offer was a “massive PR stunt.”
“If Starbucks, if all the tax avoiders, paid their fair share, 25 billion pounds could be put back into public services and enrich our economy.”
Some female protesters lay down in sleeping bags and intentionally parodied a women’s refuge, a service they say has been targeted by government spending cuts.
In the last few days, Starbucks placed adverts in UK newspapers confirming their commitment to paying corporation tax in Britain.
“We know we are not perfect. But we have listened … We hope that over time, through our actions and our contribution, you will give us an opportunity to build on your trust and custom,” UK managing director Kris Engskov said in the adverts.
Starbucks insists it has always acted legally since opening its chains in Britain in 1998 and that it is not hiding profits from tax authorities.