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 punishmentfor joining a union.
Trade unions, such as mine Baker’s, Food and Allies Workers Union (BFAWU), have worked to support these brave workers in standing up and fighting back against McDonalds – a company which has let these workers down one too many times.
Yet, despite all the attempts to change McDonald’s approach and help them 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 they have 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 2 of its stores - Crayford and Cambridge - will be balloted, with a view to authorise a strike.
Today, 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 today showed that 95.7 percent 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. And 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 they made – they haven’t dealt with their grievances procedure properly, haven’t looked to seriously improve poor working conditions, and have 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 their worker’s right to form a trade union, as employees of the company. So far, they have chosen to ignore their workers by tightening their purse strings – filling their CEO’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 too - 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.
Ian Hodson (National President)