Why everyone should support the McDonald’s workers
Staff at McDonald’s in Cambridge and Crayford took strike action last September. This was the first ever strike at a British McDonalds, and the strikers were part of a growing movement of precarious and vulnerable workers who have been organising and ghting for better pay and conditions in recent years.
The striking workers demanded £10 per hour, more secure working hours, and recognition of the right to form a trade union as employees of the company. Workers in the service sector, such as cleaners, delivery, bar and restaurant staff, endure some of the worst conditions at work: insecure employment, workplace bullying, inadequate wages and terrible working conditions, coupled with the threat of being easily replaced should they miss work or stand up for their rights, wreak havoc on their physical and mental health.
There is a constant narrative driven by employers and the media that these are only ‘starter’ or part-time jobs, just for teenagers or people who need a bit of extra cash, and that therefore workers should not expect decent pay or conditions.
This is nonsense! It is entirely within the means of any business to provide a living wage for its staff. For many people these jobs are the only ones available, and many nd them- selves working two or even three different jobs to make ends meet.
The McStrikers’ brave campaign last year was successful in winning McDonalds staff a £10 per hour minimum wage and the promise of guaranteed contract hours for all staff by the end of 2017. This was a big step forward and proof of what organisation can achieve.
Now members of the Bakers Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU) are campaigning for their union to be officially recognised by McDonalds, in accordance with international law, which recognises workplace organisation as an inalienable human right.
Organised workers fighting to improve their lot often face criticism from people who should be supporting them. Capitalist propaganda tries to tell us that strikers are just greedy, and are already paid too much for the work they do, pitting worker against fellow worker. But in reality, all workers have the same interests, and a victory for one group of us is a victory for all.
If we allow the capitalists to enforce bad conditions on another set of workers today, tomorrow they will be coming for the rest of us. Rather than accepting what we’re given, we should support struggling workers and ask ourselves: ‘Why don’t I have better pay and conditions at work?’
Although we’re told that we all need to tighten our belts owing to the financial crisis, many companies are reporting huge profits – profits made at the expense of their workers.
Organisation is a vital weapon in the fight for our rights. It is only when workers are united through organisation that they can stand up for themselves and secure their right to dignity at work.
Individually we are powerless; together we are a force!