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Unite launches campaign to highlight pay and conditions at UK coffee chains

The UK workplace union is planning to meet with staff at the UK’s ‘big four’ coffee chains to highlight the issues of pay and understaffing in the hospitality industry

Unite will visit select outlets of Starbucks, Costa Coffee, Caffé Nero and Pret A Manger | Photo credit: Tyler Nix


Unite, a leading union for hospitality workers in the UK, is campaigning for improved pay, better job prospects and enhanced working conditions at major coffee chains. 

The union says the industry is rife with low pay, chronic staffing shortages and insecure contracts. 

Unite is planning solidarity action with coffee shop staff across 51 towns and cities in the UK where campaigners will visit select outlets of Starbucks, Costa Coffee, Caffé Nero and Pret A Manger to speak to employees about the Baristas United campaign. 

“For too long baristas and café workers have suffered from some of the lowest pay and most insecure contracts in the British economy. Baristas from across the country face poverty pay, inconsistent hours and chronic understaffing – even though their employers continue to rake in huge profits. Our campaign aims to change that. By bringing together workers from across the coffee sector’s Big Four, we will develop organising strategies that seek to drive up standards across the sector,” said Bryan Simpson, Lead Organiser for Hospitality, Unite. 

In October 2022 Pret A Manger announced its second UK staff pay rise of the year, pledging an additional £10m ($11.9m) to support its employees in the wake of the rising cost of living. 

The coffee and food-to-go chain had previously pledged £9.2m ($10.9m) in January 2022 to raise wages for 8,000 of its UK store staff from £9.40 up to £10.15 per hour. 

Fellow UK-based chain Costa Coffee raised its hourly worker wages by at least 5% in UK company-owned stores in October last year.  

The campaign takes place on 17 November 2022 to coincide with union action from Starbucks staff in the US. 

The US coffee chain increased its hourly worker wages to at least $12 in all US stores in October 2021, and up to or above $15 in some markets.  

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