New campaign: Lupi workers fighting against self-absorbed boss!

Nederlandse versie

Two weeks ago, we shared the news about a new campaign.

We were approached by six baristas of Lupi Coffee, a sort of wannabe-starbucks with branches in Leiden, Leidschendam and Den Haag (read their stories here).

We delivered their demands summed up in a letter with an ultimatum: Lupi Coffee has to change the poor conditions in which people have to work and pay back these six workers what they have a right to receive, or we will take action.

Sadly, they consider it below themselves to answer us. The deadline has come, but still no response. This company which apsires to have ’20 something franchises’ by the end of the year, isn’t greedy when it comes to instagram-worthy decor or expensive robot waiters. But when it comes to staff, it’s a different story:

  • Lupi Coffee pays €0,59 per hour less than minimum wage. In one case, the difference to minimum wage was even more than €2 per hour. Not to mention that workers are often expected to do tasks that fall in a higher wage scale by law.
  • The workers are also expected to clock out at closing time and do the cleaning up on their own time! When someone forgot to clock in or out, the shift is unpaid as well.
  • It’s often impossible for workers to have a break during their shift, but they still have one hour of unpaid break time per day taken from their wages.
  • Holiday payments were only 8% when the CAO Horeca clearly says 9,6% for 0 hour contracts.
  • Before signing (or seeing) their contract, workers need to do a multi-day ‘barista course’ which is basically free labor (making coffee, serving customers, cleaning up,…). Did we say free? They are also expected to pay €290 for the first day of the training. If the workers leave within the first six months of their contract, they are required to pay ANOTHER €290 per day for the supposed cost of training, which is then taken from their last salary. Making employees pay for their own training has become illegal since 2022 (See paragraph 1 & 4 (in Dutch)).

In our letters last month, we’ve made it clear to Mr. Akef, the owner of Lupi Coffee, that he has to stop these practises. According to our calculations, he owes the six workers who approached us € 977 to €1794 in wage compensation, depending on the case, plus the course fee which ranges from €290 to €870.

Who is this Mr. Akef?

You can see his face all over the coffee bars and their website. He’s that guy with the weird hat and a coffee cup in front of his face. He’s that guy that made a fortune selling ‘Persian Caviar’ before he founded Lupi Coffee in 2021. He claims that Lupi Coffee stands for ‘1 big wolf pack that is there for each other (unconditionally)’.

On Lupi Coffee’s website, Mr. Akef describes how he created Lupi Coffee and the ‘philosophy lovetator’ ‘out of love for each other, out of respect for each other and most of all being loyal to each other’. There’s a list of ’40 rules of life’ that you need to follow to become a ‘lovetator’ (also with his picture on it). These rules concern ‘(the man)’. While Mr. Akef writes that ‘in reality (the man) means you and me’, he mostly refers to himself as ‘the man’. Some of these rules are rightout weird, like ‘have a intense kind of feeling for (the man)’ or ‘always let (the man) finish’. Others are rules that he should actually try to apply in his life, : ‘appreciate (the man)’, ‘put the good of your relationship/friendship with (the man) about selfish wants’ or ‘be generous to (the man)’. Exchange (the man) for (the barista) and you’ll see that Mr. Akef does not follow his own set of rules for ‘love, affection and integrity’.

‘The man’ decided to ignore our letters. He thinks he can get away with stealing from his workers while he’s setting up the next Starbucks Coffee. Not if it’s up to us! We won’t stop until he agrees with our claims. Publishing this article is only one of many steps ahead…

Every campaign is a new opportunity to learn other new and creative ways to organize.

Every time we support each other as workers we grow stronger, more knowledgeable, less afraid.

Have you always wanted to fight the boss that made you sweat away on those long and underpaid shifts? And do you have ideas on how to do this? Then the workers of Lupi need you to help with this campaign! Standing strong together sends a message to all abusive employers: We are not free labor! Baristas, cooks, service staff, dishwashers, housekeeping – we are the machine that keeps Horeca running!