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Edinburgh-Chiapas Solidarity Group and Edinburgh IWW | 20.11.2004 23:50 | Globalisation | Social Struggles | Workers' Movements | Zapatista | World

Protestors picketed Starbucks in Edinburgh’s High Street for three and a half hours on Saturday 20th November. Demonstrators served up free zapatista coffee, proclaiming solidarity with the rebel indigenous movement in Mexico and with New York Starbucks workers in dispute with the coffee giant. The action was jointly organised by Edinburgh Branch Industrial Workers of the World and Edinburgh-Chiapas Solidarity Group.

Activists distributed 1,000 leaflets exposing Starbucks. Passers-by clustered round the stall to receive a warming cup of zapatista coffee, to get more information, and to sign up for contact lists.

The management called the police to try and remove the demonstrators - but the officers decided no offence was being committed. Seeing the picket, some would-be customers decided not to enter Starbucks, and the increasingly desperate management despatched a worker outside to dish out free corporate coffee!

The giant Industrial Workers of the World banner blocked out Starbucks plate glass window, the revolutionary unionists showing solidarity with the “baristas” of New York City who are defying Starbucks union-busting and organising to try and win improved conditions. Zapatista supporters condemned Starbuck’s backing for Conservation International, prominent in efforts to evict indigenous people from Montes Azules in Chiapas.

Today’s 15-strong Edinburgh picket was accompanied by a simultaneous picket in Glasgow by Glasgow Zapatista Solidarity and Clydeside IWW, and was also part of a Day of Action organised by zapatista solidarity groups round Britain.


Joe from the IWW said :
” Starbucks workers in several branches in New York are battling their bosses to establish an IWW union and improve their wages and conditons. Currently workers start at 7 dollars 75 cents per hour, and eventually receive raises amounting to just a few cents. Starbucks has a system where all baristas work on a part-time basis and have no guaranteed hours, thus making it very difficult for workers to budget for necessities like rent, utilities and food.

“Deliberate low staffing levels result in stress and poor health and safety. Repetitive strain injury and burns are not unusual. The workers are demanding improvements such as guaranteed hours and an end to under-staffing.

“Starbucks have responded with union-busting tactics. They've threatened to push down wages in any unionised shops to the legal minimium, and they have victimised one of the main union organisers, Daniel Gross, and served him with a final warning based on downright lies.

"Unlike the conventional trade unions the IWW really believes “an injury to one is an injury to all”. The Starbucks workers in New York have told us they are excited by these actions of international solidarity.”


Edinburgh-Chiapas Solidarity Group member Esther stated:
“Starbucks make great play of serving fair trade coffee. The reality is that less than 2% of their coffee is supposedly fair trade - and that comes from an organisation called Conservation International which is aiding and encouraging efforts by the Mexican government to evict indigenous peoples from the Montes Azules biosphere.

"Conservation International is a notorious “greenwash” organisation, funded by US state agencies and multinational corporations. Starbucks are a major partner and backer of Conservation International and are therefore complicit in their hidden war on indigenous communities. The zapatista villages in Montes Azules have declared they are not going to allow eviction, and we are acting in solidarity with these “communities in resistance”.

"The coffee we are distributing comes from zapatista co-operatives. We distribute it because this way the indigenous peasants receive three times what they are normally paid by the “coyotes”, the middlemen. And above all we distribute this coffee to give solidarity to people who have taken over the land and are creating their own autonomous communities - they are running things themselves outside the control of government and business. The zapatistas are an inspiration for us to take direct action here to gain control of our lives.”


To support the New York Starbucks baristas the Industrial Workers of the World invites you to
- Contact Candace Nunnally, Daniel Gross’ district manager, to demand that Daniel not be sacked and that the company respects the right of all workers to form a union. You can e mail her at
- Write to Starbucks chairman Howard Schultz at demanding he respect the right of workers to form a union to get out of poverty.

Edinburgh-Chiapas Solidarity Group invites people to
- Raise awareness of and boycott Conservation International, Starbucks and the other companies behind Conservation International
- Join existing zapatista solidarity groups, or start one in your own area
- Organise demos against Starbucks and Conservation International

More info on Starbucks workers organising
and on solidarity activity in Britain

More info on Conservation International and Starbucks
and on Conservation International's efforts to have indigenous peoples evicted from Montes Azules


Edinburgh-Chiapas Solidarity Group c/o ACE, 17 W Montgomery Place, Edinburgh EH7 5HA Tel 0131 557 6242
(Send a stamped addressed envelope for a copy of the Starbucks picket leaflet and other info)

Edinburgh Industrial Workers of the World

Edinburgh-Chiapas Solidarity Group and Edinburgh IWW
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