McDonalds workers to host 'McStrike' for higher wages

12 November 2019, 00:14

McDonalds workers are striking for higher pay
McDonalds workers are striking for higher pay. Picture: PA

By Maddie Goodfellow

McDonalds workers are taking a strike for higher wages to Downing Street on Tuesday as part of a global movement for fast food workers.

6 McDonalds restaurants in London will "McStrike" for the day, with McDonalds workers in dozens of towns and cities across the UK following suit.

The strike is taking place on the global day of action for fast food employees called by the International Union of Food Workers, which will see events in countries including France, Belgium, Brazil, Chile and New Zealand.

McDonalds workers across the UK are calling for £15 per hour wages, an end to youth pay rates, the choice of guaranteed hours of up to 40 hours a week, notice of shifts four weeks in advance and recognition of the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers' Union.

One employee at Crayford McDonald's in London, Lewis Baker, said he is striking because he struggles to pay rent on his £8.80 per hour wage.

Mr Baker, 29, said: "There are a lot of workers who are struggling to pay their bills and get by day to day.

"We don't have set hours, so we don't always earn enough to pay the bills.

He continued: "If we got £15 an hour, it would have a massive impact. I would be able to afford to pay my rent, to pay my bills, go on holiday and have some kind of work-life balance.

"I think it's important to strike against massive corporations like McDonald's who are making millions."

Current and former employees want higher wages and more job security
Current and former employees want higher wages and more job security. Picture: PA

A former McDonald's employee, Connor McLean-Bolingoli, said he was paid £6.20 per hour working as a teenager for McDonald.

Mr McLean-Bolingoli, 22, said he left the job in December 2017 after being told he had to work night shifts despite his bosses knowing he was a young carer.

He said: "The staff are more or less seen as expendable, as they know there will always be new high school and uni students taking up positions.

"I left because I had been scheduled to work overnight shifts for the first time since explaining that, as a carer for my mother, who has MS, I couldn't work overnight shifts."

The former employee also argues that the low wages translate to bad customer service.

He said: "I was told by a guy on my first day, 'we don't get paid enough to care about getting normal burgers exactly right', and obviously that attitude lets things down for the customer."

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell has said he supports the strike
Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell has said he supports the strike. Picture: PA

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell has confirmed he will join the workers at Downing Street to challenge what he called "poverty wages".

He said: "Low pay and insecure work is endemic in the fast food industry.

"A Labour government will take on the big corporations such as McDonald's to stop them from paying out poverty wages.

"Labour's commitment to a £10-an-hour real living wage and an end to in-work poverty will help millions of low-paid workers across the country."

McDonalds workers want an end to teenage wages
McDonalds workers want an end to teenage wages. Picture: PA

A McDonald's spokesman assured customers the six London stores affected, Wandsworth Town, Downham, Balham, Deptford, Catford and Crayford, will still be open on Tuesday.

He said: "We are extremely disappointed that a very small number of our people in just a handful of our restaurants are considering industrial action.

"We understand only nine people are involved across six restaurants, which is a tiny proportion of our 130,000 workforce and 1,300 restaurants.

"Their potential actions do not represent our people. We are committed to investing in our workforce, listening to and doing what is right by them.

He continued: "The BFAWU is calling for 40-hour guaranteed contracts, which is something we already offer - but has been chosen by very few of our people.

"With all given the choice, around 90% of our employees have chosen to remain on flexible contracts, valuing the ability to work their shifts around their lives."

Similar protests have happened in the US
Similar protests have happened in the US. Picture: PA

Chris Kempczinski became McDonald's chief executive last week, after former boss Steve Easterbrook was fired for having a relationship with an unnamed employee.

Mr Easterbrook left with stock awards worth £29 million, along with a severance payment of £505,000.

His successor will earn the equivalent of £97,000 a year with a target bonus of £165,500.

The American fast food company has a market value of £113 billion and currently employs 130,000 people in the UK.