UK Uncut tax activists vowed to keep up the pressure on tax-dodging Starbucks today, warning the coffee giant that its £20 million "voluntary" tax was too little, too late.
The iconic chain of coffeeshops saw 45 stores across the country on lockdown on Saturday as tax activists outside blamed cuts to women's services on greed by big business.
The company - caught paying just £8.6m in corporation tax after more than a decade in business - bizarrely offered last week to overlook the deductions it had acquired through tax havens for the next two years, saying it would couugh up £20m.
But protesters said tax was not a charity box - and the damage had already been done.
London Feminist Network spokeswoman Emily Sawyer told the Morning Star the Con-Dem's cuts to public services were destroying women's lives, while companies such as Starbucks held back billions.
Britain's tax gap is believed to cost the public purse around £120 billion every year - nearly double the "debt supertanker" Chancellor George Osborne cited to justify the cuts.
But Ms Sawyer said public-sector jobs - mostly held by women - were disappearing in their tens of thousands.
And cuts to women's refuge and rape crisis centres were some of the worst of all.
Local authorities have cut 31 per cent of their funding for domestic violence and sexual abuse organisations since 2010, even as assaults increase during times of economic stress.
The cuts meant an average of 230 women were turned away from shelters each day in 2011 for lack of space, according to Women's Aid.
"Coffee is no comfort when women's services are cut," she said.
The movement has frequently savaged the Tories for refusing to tackle corporate tax havens, even creating its own loopholes for "normal commercial tax planning."
But activists who spoke to the Morning Star turned their ire on the Labour leadership too.
The party's front bench had been silent on both MP Michael Meacher's landmark Bill calling for a general anti-tax avoidance principle and the Con-Dems' weaker "general anti-abuse rule."
Forest Gate resident Sarah Creagh said the opposition's response had been "entirely inadequate."
She said: "I would like to see Labour speak out against the cuts, not just say they're too far and too fast."
And Hackney campaigner Lucy Ellinson agreed. She said she believed UK Uncut actions were about appeals to the public, not the Establishment.
"It's about public pressure to stop the cuts, that there's something [people] can do about it.
"It's about people taking local action in their communities," she said.
Left Labour MP John McDonnell was among the few to answer the call.
Labour Representation Committee chairman Mr McDonnell said the group was among the first to support UK Uncut's campaign.
"Our public services are being starved of the resources they need by these tax dodgers and our job is to confront them whenever we can," he said.
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