Fast-food workers strike for first time in chain’s British history against bullying bosses and poverty wages
McDONALD’S workers are making history today by taking part in the fi rst ever strike at the fast food chain in Britain.
Around 40 members of the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU) were set to walk out at 6am this morning as part of a 24-hour stoppage at two sites — Cambridge and Crayford, south-east London.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn announced his support for the strikers and their demands for union recognition, an end to zero-hours contracts and a £10 an-hour-minimum wage.
A rally in Westminster is also planned for this afternoon with speakers including shadow chancellor John McDonnell.
McDonald’s workers are on poverty pay, with some so skint that they have been forced out of their homes. The BFAWU reported one of its members was living in his car.
Cambridge McDonald’s worker Tom Holiday said: “We are asking to be treated with dignity and paid a decent wage. McDonald’s must consider reinvesting its huge net profits back into its workforce.”
Crayford worker Shen Batmaz said: “Faced with the choice between putting food on our tables or shoes on our children’s feet, we are choosing to stand up for ourselves. We can’t afford not to take action.
“We have decided to strike because of the bullying we have faced and we know McDonald’s workers face every single day all around the world.
“We have come together and are ready to fight to have the money we need to live and to have respect in our job.
“We are ready to make history. McDonald’s, the second-largest employer in the world, sets the global standard for how companies treat their workers. When we win it will be a victory for all low-paid workers everywhere.”
BFAWU president Ian Hodson said that, by staging their “historic” walkout, the workers were stepping out from the “dark shadow of impoverishment cast by Ronald McDonald’s golden arches.”
The company employs almost 86,000 people across Britain, 86 per cent of them on zero-hour contracts.
On August 18, BFAWU announced that 95.7 per cent of the workers balloted at the Cambridge and Crayford sites had voted to strike.
In a statement published after the strike ballot result was announced, McDonald’s said that all its staff would be offered the option of a contract with guaranteed hours by the end of the year.
It said the workers had received three pay rises since April 2016, increasing their hourly pay by 15 per cent.
Hundreds of trade unionists descended on McDonald’s British headquarters in Finchley on Saturday in solidarity with the strikers. Rallies have also been held in a number of towns and cities nationwide.
While the strike affects just two McDonald’s branches, it is part of a growing global movement inspired by the “Fight for Fifteen” campaign in the United States to win a $15 (£11.60) minimum hourly wage.
Last year, New Zealand workers helped win a ban of zero-hours contracts through their successful industrial action.
A McDonald’s spokesman said: “We are proud of our people at McDonald’s. They are at the heart of all we do and we work hard to ensure that our teams are treated fairly. Our internal processes underpin that commitment.”