The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain
Week commencing 6th October 2017

Workers accuse McDonald’s of serious safety failings

WORKERS at the McDonald’s fast food chain have accused their employers of serious failings on health and safety issues according to a report in the Independent last week.

This follows a strike last month by workers in two McDonald’s — in Cambridge and Crayford — over wages, zero-hours contracts, conditions and recognition of their union, the Bakers And Allied Food Workers Union (BAFWU).

The workers also accuse the company of “belittling and degrading” treatment of staff.

One employee, responding to a survey by the campaigning group Organise, said that McDonald’s did not train them how to do their job safely. As a result, the person claimed to have sustained a serious injury that could have resulted in unhygienic treatment of food.

The worker said: “The tool they gave me to use the machine cut my hand, leaving a layer of skin hanging, there was blood everywhere. I got a plaster but wasn’t given any safety gloves and the manager didn’t care.”

Staff also told Organise that they had to borrow money because the fast food chain offered them insecure shifts and low pay.

Another employee, who claimed to be on a zero-hours contract, said they would like to work without “worrying about living month to month”.

That person said: “It’s not like McDonald’s are short of money and need to make the cut backs. They’re willing to see staff struggle just to put a few more pennies in their own pockets.”

A third McDonald’s employee spoke of “constant belittling and degrading treatment of staff by managers” and teenagers being forced to work 16-hour shifts.

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell mentioned the “McStrikers” in his speech at the Labour Party conference last week.

One of the strikers, Shen Batmaz, said last Monday: “McDonald’s called us liars and said there was only a few of us. This many people can’t all be wrong. We know you can tell a McDonald’s worker from the burns on their arms. We all have stories of abuse and injuries at work.”


She then told reporters: “It started because we had a new business manager who was bullying and harassing us, and was allowed to get away with it. I can’t tell you how many workers I saw running off the floor crying within the first two weeks of him being here.

“There was a worker who was homeless, and she had suffered domestic abuse in the past. The way the manager was acting was triggering to her. I had a conversation with her and she was just giving up. A lot of people were just giving up. We decided that standing up to him alone wasn’t going to work, so we came together. We realised that even if we resolved the issue with the manager, we needed conditions. We needed better pay so we can live, and we also need to end zero-hour contracts, because workers need to have the promise of money coming in every week.

“We met with BFAWU. It wasn’t easy when we started, there were only two of us, and at first people were scared. They didn’t really know what a union was. It took a lot of time to get them to trust in the union. Gareth, the organiser, was here every week to talk to people. The Americans from Fight for $15 came to talk to us, they helped us plan how we were going to do it.

“There was a massive explosion in activity when the general election was called and Jeremy Corbyn started to get going. We jumped from six members to 20 in the week after the election.

We have a 30-year-old worker in here who had never voted in her life, and for the first time ever she voted in a general election for Jeremy Corbyn. There was a lot of faith in this store, between workers, that he would get into power. I think they felt more able to join the union, because there would be someone in government who would protect their rights.

“After that explosion, we started to talk about strike action. We were left with no other option by that point.