Natalie Huet London

HUNDREDS of demonstrators protested at Starbucks cafes across Britain on Saturday accusing the US coffee chain of avoiding paying corporation tax at a time when the government was cutting essential services because of a drop in revenues.

At one central London outlet activists from the anti-austerity UK Uncut movement staged a sit-in, chanting “Starbucks pay your taxes” and briefly setting up a children’s crèche before police moved them on.

Protests were held at more than 40 of the multinational’s cafes, UK Uncut said. The demonstrations were held two days after Starbucks said it would pay about £20 million (R277m) in British corporation tax over the next two years.

Its announcement came after weeks of criticism in the media and parliament following a Reuters report, which said Starbucks had paid no corporation tax in Britain over the past three years while telling investors the local business was highly profitable.

Starbucks’ tax offer was just a “massive PR stunt”, said Rosie Rogers, a UK Uncut activist. “If Starbucks, if all the tax avoiders, paid their fair share, £25 billion could be put back into public services and enrich our economy,” Rogers said. – Reuters