As public anger rises over news of tax avoidance by Starbucks, the coffee giant is to face a day of nonviolent action by people opposed to government cuts.
UK Uncut have announced that they will “turn” branches of Starbucks into refuges, crèches and homeless shelters on 8 December. They believe that taxes from Starbucks and other corporations could fund services such as these, which are suffering from government cuts.
Top executives from Starbucks recently faced the Public Accounts Committee over exposes of tax avoidance. They were accused of immoral behaviour that is technically within the law.
UK Uncut have been taking creative, nonviolent actions of this sort since October 2010.
On this occasion, they want to highlight the disproportionate impact of the government's spending cuts on women. The action will take place three days after the Chancellor's autumn statement, when further spending cuts are expected to be announced.
"It is an outrage that the government continues to let multinationals like Starbucks dodge millions in tax while vital services like refuges and rape crisis centres face the axe,” said UK Uncut's Sarah Greene.
She insisted, “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, but are instead making cuts that are forcing women to choose between motherhood and work, and trapping them in abusive relationships."
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 £1.2 billion. The company was also reported to have filed accounts saying its UK operations were making a loss, while reporting strong UK profits to investors.
Campaigners say that women are bearing the brunt of cuts to public sector jobs, wages, housing benefit, childcare, and pensions.
Additional hardship on women is being caused by the government's decision to cut £5.6 million from services tackling violence against women, £300 million from Sure Start centres and a further £10 billion in benefit cuts.
UK Uncut say that every day, 230 women are turned away from refuges as a result of the government's cuts to women's services.
"Women have had enough of being attacked by a cabinet of out-of-touch millionaire men,” said Sheena Shah of UK Uncut.
She added, “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. Benefit cuts are forcing women to choose between heating the house and feeding the family. No-one should have to make these choices."