BACK STAGE AT PEPPERMINT IGUANA HQ: Gigs, Festivals, Parties, CDs, Books, Protests, travels, photography and Cardiff City FC

Saturday, February 03, 2007

SAVE CARDIFF PART ONE: giving away coffee outside Starbucks

Cardiff is no different from any high street these days, row after row of chain shops making it look no different to any other high street in the UK.. or the world even(?)! Some of these chains are worse than others though. Today, Cardiff Anarchist Network targeted Starbucks for some bad publicity, giving away coffee outside and pushing the message Coffee not bombs.

It is difficult to know where to start with Starbucks. They are big.. REALLY BIG. The are making profits of around $10 billion a year and it is estimated they open up 8 new shops around the world every day. Yet while they are raking it in the farmers that provide them with the beans to make the coffee are starving. The farmers that supply them are paid between 2 and 50 cents per pound for the coffee they grow, which then sells at $10 per pound. In 2001 the CEO of Starbucks took home $2,145,000, while the average farmer providing coffee for the chain took home $300 for the entire year. They have started selling fair trade coffee, but this amounts to less than 1% of the coffee sold in their shops. Undoubtedly fair trade is simply seen as greenwash for the company image.

They have a nasty habit of stifling competition, they open up a shop and keep the prices as low as they can, even sometimes making a loss, until they have driven the local competition out of business, then once a monopoly is guaranteed the prices go up.

Starbucks is renowned for being fiercely anti trade union and wants nothing to do with staff unions in its shops. There is something iof a fightback underway though and the IWW have formed their own Starbucks Union… but it is going to be a hard struggle.

Howard Schultz, current CEO of Starbucks, is an active Zionist and as such supports the oppression of the Palestinian People, so it does not make it too difficult to imagine some of the money handed over for your cappuccino ending up going towards perpetuation the misery of the people on the West Bank.

Today free Cafe Rebellion coffee, grown by the Zapatista Anti-capitlaist rebels in Mexico, was handed out to passers by in Queen Street. This is unlikely to have made much of an impact on Starbucks profits for the day but hopefully it planted a seed and some people that normally do not question where there money is going may think about it in the future. If no minds were won over, maybe they will be next time, and maybe one day we might meet up with someone that will even become active. That is what it is all about, chipping away. And chipping away with free coffee and free entertainment has got to be more fun than trying to shove hard left newspapers in someone’s face and calling them capitalist bastards when they don’t sign your petition.



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