Sunday 17 May 2009

Starbucks Picket

Today there were two pickets at Starbucks Coffee in Poland - one in Warsaw and one in Wroclaw, the two cities where Starbucks opened their first cafes in Poland last month. May 17 is the 5th anniversary of the founding of the Starbucks workers union, which we spoke about at the pickets.

The pickets were organized by ZSP as solidarity campaigns but also to raise awareness about working conditions in the cafe/restaurant industry and to encourage workers to organize.

Some photos of the picket in Wroclaw can be found here:;cmd=366

(Sorry, no photos from Warsaw this time. A little technical fuck-up.)

Today's picket also included information about what is going on along "Nowy Swiat" (New World) Street in Warsaw where Starbucks is located. Almost all of the well-known cafes along the street have closed down due to astronomical rents, leaving room only for corporate chains, ultra-exclusive places and money laundering fronts. We just found out that the last of the famous cafes on the street. Cafe Bajka which has been there for 53 years and was the last place on the street where you could get a cheap drink and a meal, is being forced to close since their rent was raised to an astronomical 20,000 zloties a month. (It's a small place, so it's really amazingly high rent.) We could see on the street that other cafes and small shops have closed up and in their place we will have Subway and Haagen Daaz. The price of coffee in Starbucks is similar to in the US, despite the fact that average wages are many times higher. This makes brands like these clearly brands for yuppies (and tourists) who are in the elite. Seeing what is going on with the
rapid influx of corporate chain stores along New World St., we renamed it "Brave New World" St.

We have also noticed that Starbucks in Poland has started an extensive greenwashing campaign, which an average consumer might misunderstand and believe the prices are high because they are buying fair trade coffee. Only about 5% of Starbucks coffee is fair trade but they are presenting themselves as the most "ethical" coffee in town.

No comments:

Post a Comment