There's trouble at coffee shop

I apologise for the title as it's based on an old saying from where I'm from (Lancashire, England) - "there's trouble at mill", a place renowned for it's bleak industrial landscape and the odd colourful industrial tussle between mill employers and mill employees.

According to news that has been filtering in from Auckland, New Zealand for the past few days, there has been a strike at one of Auckland's Starbucks coffee shops. What is more, the so-called small-scale "symbolic" strike has escalated as workers from nine other stores spontaneously joined the picket line.

The strike appears to be about extremely succesful corporations paying staff minimum or close to state decreed minumim wages. It is also suggested that comparible Starbucks employees in Australia earn around $NZ5 more than their NZ counterparts.

As in most industrial disputes, the strike in question is characterised by all the usual antics, e.g. worker protests (as many as 200 at one time), accusations of 'heavy-handed' management strategies, and the deployment of 'scab' labour in the form of managers earning overtime to undermine disruptive tactics. Never mind, PR representatives sent into give their usual rhetoric-laden speeches based on respecting the wishes of workers who join unions, paying above minimum wage, offering well respected training programmes, flexible hours, access to management positions, etc. See World first for Starbucks as staff at 10 cafes strike - New Zealand News on Stuff for more details.

However, what I found quite interesting (i.e. a source via LabourStart) is a website being used by an organization calling itself Super Size My Pay - a means to publicise a general disdain for the low wages paid by large MNCs. It's full of detail, but for me it looks just like a blog. In other words, are we set to see blogs used as a major resource during industrial disputes?

2 comments:

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Aginoth said...

Of course paying peanuts is how MNC's make enough profit to become so large in the firstplace