Workers from stores across Auckland walked off the job today to join the world’s first Starbucks strike, held on Auckland’s counter-culture café strip, Karangahape Rd, New Zealand.
What began as a small protest by workers from one store became a city-wide strike when Starbucks workers heard that managers would be brought in to cover the shifts of the striking K’Rd workers.
“What began as an event to highlight the poor conditions of low pay and minimum wage workers turned into a show of solidarity and strength between Auckland’s Starbucks workers,” said Simon Oosterman, SuperSizeMyPay.Com campaign coordinator.
“More than 30 workers spontaneously walked out from 10 different Auckland Starbucks stores to join KFC, Pizza Hut and McDonalds employees, and around 150 other supporters outside the K’Rd store,” he said.
“Starbucks workers continued their solidarity despite being threatened with being sacked for abandonment of shift if they did not return after one hour,” said Mr Oosterman.
“The only people being abandoned are Starbucks workers.”
Daniel Gross, co-founder of the Starbucks workers union in New York, said the strike was an important step towards changing working conditions for those in the fast-food sector all over the world.
“The Kiwi Starbucks workers are making a stand for baristas around the world. We get paid what amounts to a poverty wage and there are no guaranteed hours. Starbucks have record turnovers every year, but none of that money makes it into the workers pockets,” said Mr Gross.
“This is a signal that minimum wage workers from around the world are fed up with living on the poverty line,” he concluded.
Mr Oosterman said that multinational companies are taking advantage of people in vulnerable situations.
“Our campaign isn’t just about fair pay at work, it’s about social justice. Poverty-wages are increasing the gap between rich and poor and increasing other social inequalities. The majority of low paid and minimum wage workers are women, Maori, pacific islanders, disabled, youth, students and new migrants,” he said.
The Starbucks strike was a first step in a campaign to raise public awareness of these issues, and will be taken to the Grey Lynn festival and the Santa Parade this weekend.
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