The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain
Week commencing 25th August 2017

McDonald’s workers are ready to strike

WORKERS employed by the McDonald’s fast food restaurant chain in Cambridge and in Crayford in Kent have voted overwhelmingly for strike action in support of their claims for a £10-per-hour minimum wage, an end to zero-hour contracts and for union recognition.

If the strike goes ahead it will be the first time McDonald’s staff in Britain have taken strike action.

They are members of the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU). The union has been trying to negotiate better wages, terms and conditions for McDonald’s workers for a long time without success and believes that the 95.7 per cent vote in favour of strike action at the two branches concerned could set a precedent for the whole fast-food chain in Britain.

Jeremy Corbyn has shown his support to the workers, writing on Facebook: “I met with the Bakers’ Union and some of their members who work at McDonald’s. They explained that although they have long campaigned for better pay and working conditions, the corporation has not addressed their concerns.”

The BFAWU said in statement: “Workers have found themselves living on low wages with no guarantee of hours.

“This has been viewed by some as punishment for joining a union, and has seen employees struggle to meet their rent payments, whilst some have even lost their homes.”

Ian Hodson, the national president of BFAWU, said: “For far too long, workers in fast food restaurants such as McDonald’s have had to deal with unexplainably poor working conditions, drastic cuts to employee hours, and even bullying in the workplace — viewed by many as a punishment for joining a union.

“Trade unions, such BFAWU, have worked to support these brave workers in standing up and fighting back against McDonalds — a company that has let these workers down one too many times.

“Yet, despite all the attempts to change McDonald’s approach and help it become a fairer employer, nothing has been done on their side. Nothing has changed. Empty promises have been made. Yet nothing has been delivered.

“Now, workers feel there is no alternative but to take action against McDonald’s, expose the systematic and unfair treatment it has handed down to its employees over many, many years, and to fight for the rights they, and all fast food workers across the globe are entitled to.


“Last month, our union notified McDonald’s that workers from two of its stores — Crayford and Cambridge — will be balloted, with a view to authorise a strike. Last Friday, those very workers took an historic step — to announce their intention to strike for the first time in UK history, over the company’s failure to offer them acceptable working conditions, job security or even an affordable living wage.

“Results from the ballot showed that 95.7 per cent of the balloted McDonald’s workers, voted in favour of the strike. That’s certainly a statement of intent — and discontent — if there ever was one. The honest truth is that the voice of these workers is only going to get louder.

“The be-all and end-all is that McDonald’s have failed to deliver on the promises it made — it hasn’t dealt with their grievances procedure properly, hasn’t looked to seriously improve poor working conditions, and has failed to end the use of zero-hour contracts — something that was promised to workers just earlier this year! Workers have the right to voice their concerns. Some workers are working full time and are still living in poverty.

“That’s the harsh reality of it. This ballot is all about fighting for a £10 per hour minimum wage, and the need for McDonald’s to recognise its workers’ right to form a trade union, as employees of the company.

“So far, it has chosen to ignore its workers by tightening purse strings — filling its chief executive officer’s pockets, at the expense of workers here in the UK and across the world. But this needs to change now. And change fast.

“There is growing global movement calling for the fair and decent treatment of workers. In the US for example, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) have shown the importance of collective action — with their ‘Fight for $15’ campaign having seen more than 10 million workers move towards a $15 minimum wage, and with 20 million workers in total having won wage increases since 2012.

“Now, the BFAWU and our members will fight to achieve the same impressive results seen by our transatlantic colleagues — starting with the strike later this year.

“This strike is a call for change. Our members demand to be listened to — they have a right to get their voice heard. Hopefully, senior figures at McDonald’s will be listening, because this voice is not going to go away, and this behaviour can go on no longer.”