Nottingham university students have been campaigning tirelessly over the last few weeks to get their University to get Starbucks off campus, and stop them selling their unethical beverages in the Hallward Library. Students were shocked when, a few weeks ago, their café in the main library on campus suddenly started serving Starbucks coffee. In a move that has upset a large part of the student body the university decided to change coffee supplier without any sort of student consultation and now the students are up in arms.
For the last two weeks students have manned an ‘anti-Starbucks’ stall outside the Hallward Library where the Starbucks coffee is being served (at nearly double its pre-Starbucks price). The movement against the corporatisation of our educational facilities has been swift; nearly 700 people have joined the Facebook group against Starbucks, hundreds of people have signed the petition and loads of cups of tea and coffee have been sold from a makehift stall outside the library to students who don’t want to pay £1.45 for a coffee.
From 'Why does Starbucks upset us so much?'
Firstly (and possibly most significantly) the opening of the Starbucks has upset so many because of the lack of consultation and the huge increase in price overnight. Students want cheap, good quality coffee and they want to have a say.
Starbucks have an appalling list of environmental and social offences that they have committed over the years: Only 6% of Starbucks’ coffee is fairtrade (Coffee growers receive little more than 0.50p for a pound of coffee, which is then sold for £80). Starbucks have a terrible workers rights record and has been recorded as sacking workers for unionising and not allowing their American barrista’s full healthcare or holiday benefits.
Finally Starbucks is an ugly, aggressive and irresponsible corporation. They bring a soulless and bland brand to every place on earth that they think they will make money, they break local business and shatter community meeting places and can only be stopped by communities (like our student one) standing up to they and telling them to ‘buck off’.
The students of Nottingham University do not want a company on their campus who have no scruples with opening up in Guantanamo Bay!
A meeting with the head of Estates at the University has confirmed that we are in a trial period and with another planned outlet on the Jubilee campus the time has come for us to make our voices heard and make sure Starbucks fail their trial.
Students plan to remain outside the library daily for as long as it takes.
From 'Keep Starbucks off campus!'
At present, the Hallward library café is now serving Starbucks coffee. The beans and the coffee machine are bought from Starbucks, making the café "soft-branded". The Students' Union was informed of the proposed moves on the 5th of October, apparently after the deal had already been set in motion. Although this is apparently a trial period, no dates are available and no method of feedback has been given to the student population. We believe that Starbucks are the wrong people to be given this contract, and we ask for this decision to be reviewed.
WHAT'S WRONG WITH STARBUCKS SERVING OUR UNIVERSITY?
Before Starbucks was introduced to the Hallward Café, a large cup of filter coffee cost 90p, it now costs £1.45. That’s a single price increase of over 60%! Good coffee doesn't have to cost this much, Fairtrade coffee doesn't have to cost this much – we are simply paying for the privilege of the Starbucks brand.
This move directly affects students, yet there was no consultation with the Students' Union prior to this decision being made. Given the controversy that has surrounded Starbucks' purchasing, working and marketing practices, this is disappointing. As yet there have been no means provided to students to feed back their opinion on the matter, as there are no feedback forms in Hallward cafe.
STARBUCKS’ SATURATION STRATEGY AND THE DEATH OF INDEPENDENTS
Starbucks aim to open 40,000 outlets worldwide, and have used an aggressive marketing strategy to attain their success. Starbucks seek to completely saturate target areas with their outlets, aiming for a situation like that in Vancouver, Canada, where one cross-roads has 3 Starbucks facing each other. By opening premises in prime locations at a loss even to other Starbucks, many smaller, independent coffee shops have died out. Not only does this reduce diversity and choice, but it means local communities lose money from the local economy to the coffers of a huge multinational.
TRADE UNION AND WORKERS ISSUES
The Starbucks Workers Union (SWU) alleges that the coffee giant has unlawfully fired two Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) ‘baristas’ in retaliation for union activity; illegally disciplined workers for discussing the union during and after work; threatened, issued negative performance reviews, and suspended workers for supporting the union. According to trade unions, workers in Starbucks can have to work at a relentless pace, and with the rationalised conditions, have suffered from repetitive strain injuries. Interestingly most baristas are on ‘temporary contracts’, even if they work full time hours. These ‘temporary contracts’ mean the company is not obliged to offer benefits, guaranteed hours and therefore workers have no guaranteed income and cannot plan their lives round guaranteed working times.
Despite Starbucks having an ethical policy, they themselves state that only 6% of their global products are certified Fairtrade. Coffee growers receive little more than 0.50p for a pound of coffee, which is then sold for £80. Of the $7.8 billion annual global turnover they achieve, 0.4% is spent on all charitable contributions, and only 0.02% on social development projects in coffee-growing communities. Considering their profit, this seems like a token offering. (This information can be found in the Starbucks "Social Responsibility" pamphlet, if you look hard enough). The University has had Fairtrade status for several years, and have aimed explicitly to ensure all hot beverages served are certified Fairtrade. Serving Starbucks coffee is a step backwards.
- Cafe stall is running on Thursday w/ support from Veggies. However, difficulty in finding rooms to use kettles, borrowing urns etc. and the horrible weather mean that the cafe will not be running in the future
- The cafe stall made £100 in the first week and a half; this is being donated to Crocus
- Research is underway into how much money Starbucks/Hallward make from the arrangement and how the profits are divided. Research into the proposed 'full-on' Starbucks cafe on Jubilee campus is also being undertaken in the hope we can make a pre-emptive move to stop it happening
- There is to be a showing of 'Black Gold' sometime in the future, as well as a short 20 minute film about Starbucks' exploitation of workers