Author Mark Fairlie

Staff at McDonalds, the world’s second largest fast food retailer (behind Subway) have gone on strike for the first ever time in the UK

The Bakers’ Food and Allied Workers Union (BWAFU) held a ballot of staff at two of McDonald’s 1,270 restaurants. 95.7% of the workers who received a ballot paper voted in favour of taking action.

The strike took place on September 4th at McDonald’s branches in Cambridge and Crayford in south-east London.

What are they striking for?

Striking workers at the affected McDonald’s branches are campaigning for:

• £10 per hour minimum wage,
• Less insecure working hours,
• Acceptable working conditions, and
• Recognition of the right to form a trade union as employees of the company.

Union leaders claim to have been inspired by the “Fight for $15” campaign in the United States, which it says has ”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.”

Speaking to the Guardian, Ian Hodson, BWAFU’s national president said

“This is the second-largest restaurant company in the world that makes $22bn (£17bn) revenues a year, and yet its workers are living in poverty. They have been the pioneers of zero-hours contracts.”

How has McDonald’s reacted?

McDonalds workers strike

As reported by Metro newspaper, a McDonald’s spokesperson said that

“We can confirm that, following a ballot process, the BFAWU has indicated that a small number of our people representing less than 0.01% of our workforce are intending to strike in two of our 1,270 UK restaurants…As per the terms of the ballot, the dispute is solely related to our internal grievance procedures and not concerning pay or contracts.”

Defending their record, the company also told the paper that McDonalds and its franchisees would be offering staff guaranteed hours contracts by the end of 2017. Of the staff members offered this option so far “86% have chosen to stay on flexible contracts”.

In addition, McDonald’s stated that staff had received three pay rises since 2016 equivalent to an overall 15% increase in wages. McDonalds also said that all its hourly pay rates were above the National Minimum Wage or National Living Wage.

What have politicians said about the McDonalds strike?

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell told the Mirror newspaper,

“They should not be paying people a wage that you can’t effectively live on. We will see this escalating. I am sure there will be other fast food companies as well that have the same problems and the staff, I think, will take inspiration from the McDonalds staff.”

The leader of the Opposition, Jeremy Corbyn, sent strikers a message offering support and solidarity to the “brave McDonald’s workers…who are making history today”.

He continued,

“Now is the time for all fast food workers, the young, the low-paid and the unorganised, to join trade unions and organise in their workplaces to improve their lives. Labour will stand with them as we build a country that works for the many, not the few.”

No comment, at the time of writing, had been made by any representative of the Government.