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Global fast-food workers agree international day of protest over low wages and casual hours

International food workers' union co-ordinates protest action in 30 countries over low pay and zero-hours contracts

Trade union organisers announced global actions against low pay in the fast-food industry outside a McDonald’s restaurant in New York, US, yesterday.

They said they were planning a day of protests next week, with co-ordinated actions expected in the US and more than 30 countries.

Union representatives from countries including Argentina, China, Italy, New Zealand and Panama gathered in New York this week to plan demonstrations on May 15.

Protests calling for pay of $15 (£8.84) an hour in the US have gained national support since they began in New York in late 2012.

The push is getting support from the Service Employees International Union — which has more than two million members.

Fast-food workers have historically been difficult to unionise because of high staff turnover rates in the industry.

But turnout for protests over the past year has risen.

Many of the protesters are workers at McDonald’s, Burger King and Taco Bell.

Such chains rely on a large number of part-time, semi-casual workers to avoid paying overtime.

The practice underscores another common grievance — employees say they never know exactly how many hours of work they’ll be given.

International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers’ Associations general secretary Ron Oswald said at the two-day New York meeting that the idea of fast-food workers around the world collaborating would have been unthinkable 10 years ago.

But he noted that times have changed.

“Fast food workers have had enough,” he said.

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