Starbucks axes 685 jobs

UNITE is deeply disappointed about the news that Starbucks will axe 685 jobs and close 61 of its 84 stores in Australia. This follows the news that Starbucks are closing 600 stores in the US resulting in over 12,000 job losses.

It has been revealed that 17 Victorian outlets will close, including three inner city stores – in Queen, Collins and Bourke streets. Also two stores at Cheltenham and outlets at Port Melbourne, Ballarat, Ringwood, Deer Park, Frankston, Maribyrnong, Forest Hill, Wantirna South, Docklands, Tarneit and the Tullamarine Airport will also close.

This news means that hundreds of mostly young, low paid workers will be forced out of work and find it hard to make ends meet. Starbucks employs many students who have a hand to mouth existence and rely on this income to live.

Starbucks has said that it will pay retrenched workers one week’s notice and between two and 20 weeks’ separation pay. This is in line with the Federal minimum standard but it is not enough. UNITE believes that many of the casual staff will get much less than this.

To minimize the impact on staff, Starbucks should increase the separation payout and ensure that all casuals are paid out as well. The one weeks notice is not enough for low paid workers, this needs to be increased substantially.

If Starbucks is serious about continuing its existence in Australia it needs to distinguish itself from its competitors by moving to providing better conditions for its staff.

This should include paying decent wages and including provisions for permanent full time and part time hours. It also needs to stop discriminating against union members both in Australia and internationally. Starbucks are renowned internationally for their anti-union behavior -this has to stop immediately.

From UNITE’s point of view it is doubly disappointing that the Shop Distributive and Allied Workers Union (SDA) have said publicly that they “always planned on approaching Starbucks workers to recruit them into the union, but it just never happened”.

This is the same ‘union’ that think that UNITE should not exist because we are on ‘their turf’. Leader of the SDA Joe de Bruyn told Workforce Express that the 900 Starbucks staff were not covered by union agreements. “It was on our list – but we didn’t quite get in there”. Asked why, he simply said it “should have been on our radar but wasn’t”.

These comments prove that the SDA is not serious about organizing young workers in fast food and retail. They have millions of dollars in resources but chose to ignore a greedy multi national employer who has a history of exploiting young workers. De Bruyn’s comments only further legitimize the existence of UNITE.

We call on Starbucks employees to contact UNITE if you are concerned about your redundancy or separation pay. We also call on the Starbucks workers who have been lucky enough to keep their jobs to join UNITE as the best safeguard to ensuring that Starbucks will not treat you with contempt in the future.