Thursday, November 14, 2013

Starbucks Union ends Chilean strike with Official Declaration

Staff at Starbucks Hotel Best Western Marina Las Condes
The following is a translation of a statement made by the Industrial Workers of the World-linked Starbucks Coffee Union, following a recent eleven day strike in Chile. The union has organised about half the company's Chilean workforce, on a rank and file basis:

9th November 2013 3:14am

To our workers, our friends and citizens.

Today 8th November we voluntarily end our legal strike after accomplishing, during the 11 days of mobilisation, every political objective we had set ourselves as a collective at the outset. It was not merely a matter of gaining benefits -we knew Starbucks was going to stick to its anti-union philosophy- it was not about resources either: it was about a fight for our collective rights and a political message charged with solidarity we wanted to send to Chile and the rest of the world.

In just 11 days our organisation grew in unity and political development. Those non-unionised workers who throughout history have been - for obvious reasons - afraid of taking part in the organisation have started to see the justice of our cause and came closer to us each day. It has become evident that Starbucks is a contradictory and stubborn business. There is no social responsibility here, but instead social irresponsibility. “There is no budget for negotiations”, “we cannot grant privileges to collectives”, “unions are unnecessary in Starbucks” were some of the reasons Starbucks gave for not fulfilling its unionised workers’ demands – at the moment when Starbucks had reported more than a 34% increase in profits, reaching US$1,245.7m.

We reached civil society, collecting over 5,000 signatures of support in Chile and 7,000 signatures from the rest of the world in order to pressure Starbucks to modify its anti-union behaviour. Candidates for the Chilean Presidency like Marcel Claude, Roxana Miranda and Marco Enríquez-Ominami expressed their support; Tucapel Jiménez, Cut, Labour Front, CTC and CNT - among many other organisations - also voiced their support. Outside our frontiers, CSA and CSI presented our case to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on 25th October, also to IWW, workers in Belgium, England, Denmark, Germany, Switzerland, Bulgaria, New Zealand, Spain and Argentina in order to show the world Starbucks’ hidden face. Besides this, Starbucks unions in the US carried out activities in support of our cause.

We know Starbucks will continue to state cynically that, “it has always recognised and respected all partners’ rights to join the union.” Starbucks, however, has paid more than 50m in four fines for having made union freedom vulnerable in the most grotesque ways. Starbucks will say we are a minority and that 95% of its workers “recognise and value the good working environment and the facilities Starbucks offers, and that they therefore do not share the union’s demands”, despite the fact that surveys show that more than 80% of the company supports our organization’s actions but is scared of organising and raising its voice because of the historic repressive actions. Anti-union practices made the unionisation index fall from 55% to almost 6% in two years, but we strongly believe that today a scenario has been put forward which will favour the unity of the workers against Starbucks’ anti-unionism. “Starbucks is proud to be (supposedly) an enterprise whose politics are open and meritocratic.” What disgusts us is that Starbucks is also proud to be an anti-union business. This is why it is our duty to take all necessary national and international measures to guarantee that Starbucks stops making vulnerable its workers’ inalienable collective rights.

Starbucks persists in these actions and for this reason we will present our case to los Employment Tribunals of Justice, and also to the OCDE for violation of the procedures stated for multinationals. Moreover, we will complain to the Chilean State in front of OIT for having neglected its duty to the Rule of Law, thus allowing violations to our law and to the international agreements Chile subscribes to. During this process, all the organisations which have stood by us throughout this battle will give their support and solidarity. We Starbucks workers do not return defeated to our posts, because we have created the space that will allow us to democratise the company. We were always conscious that this was the beginning of a long-term battle against a corporate work model which intends to impose itself with violence. We will meet again in 18 months’ time, more united than ever.

Thank you all.

Starbucks Coffee Union
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