The Bakers Food and Allied Workers' Union (BFAWU) says this will be the largest ever for McDonald's workers. Workers involved in the "McStrike" are demanding a living wage, job stability and security, and to be 'treated with respect and dignity', in a battle which will see every day people go up against one of the world's largest corporations.
The BFAWU informed six McDonald's stores that their workers will go on strike on 12 November 2019. This will be part of "an international day of action for fast food workers’ rights", according spokespersons for the union. Most McDonald's workers are not unionised, a union spokesperson explained, but the number is growing everyday and workers can always join the strike on the day.
Workers Demand £15 an Hour and Guaranteed Hours of 40 a Week
A union spokesperson listed the worker's demands as:
- £15 an hour;
- an end to youth rates;
- he choice of guaranteed hours of up to 40 hours a week;
- notice of shifts 4 weeks in advance;
- recognition of the Bakers Food and Allied Workers' Union; and
- to be treated with respect and dignity at work (including
dealing with sexual harassment allegations appropriately).
McDonald's: "We are Extremely Disappointed"
In a written statement the anti-union fast-food giant 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 believe only nine people are involved across six restaurants, which is a tiny proportion of our 130,000 workforce. 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. While it is unfortunate this may be taking place, it is encouraging that there has been a steady decrease in the already small numbers of our people previously balloted. In October 2018, when activity was last planned, ultimately none of our people actually took action".
Union Rep: Workers need to Earn Enough to Live
The union spokesman in his turn recognised that the percentage of employees who are currently unionised was small. But he pushed back saying:
"The number of McDonald's workers who are members of the union is growing everyday, the union ballots its members in its stores, but between the ballot starting and the strike happening, more and more can join the union and go on strike".
He added that, "These workers are standing up for McDonald's workers everywhere". The spokesperson also said that, "It's fundamentally untrue that" that McDonald's workers didn't strike in October. He questioned how McDonald's counted strikers noting that if a manager discovers that workers will strike at his branch he can simply remove their shift from the schedule and then claim that a worker wasn't due to work anyway.
When it was put to the union spokesperson that McDonald's said it pays, "well above the government minimum wage" he noted that it's "still not enough to live on". "Fundamentally", he said, "workers are asking for a wage they can actually live on".
McDonald's: Our Workers Don't Want to Work 40 Hours Per Week
McDonald’s also argued that the 40 hour guaranteed contracts demanded by the BFAWU is "something we already offer - but has been chosen by very few of our people". They said:
"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".
Union Rep: Of Course Workers Want a Guaranteed 40 Hour Work Week
But the union spokesperson said he didn't recognise the picture painted by McDonald's.
"That’s news to many, many McDonald’s workers", he said. "A lot of McDonald’s workers I have spoken to have not gotten the ‘guaranteed hours’ that they would like, so for McDonald's to say that workers have opted not to have them is inaccurate", he said.
He explained that there is a process workers must go through:
"Managers must have approved it. They will have to have worked for 40 hours over the last 12 weeks, but that is dependent managers granting them 40 hours work to begin with".
"Finally, it's all still at the discretion of the manager", he concluded.
'I Want to 'Show My Son That Poverty is Not the Only Option'
Melissa Evans, 32, a mother who works at a McDonald’s in Wandsworth Town said:
I can show my son that poverty is not the only option. Me and my colleagues are coming together in a union to show the world that McDonald’s workers deserve the same level of respect as everyone else. We are coming together to tackle poverty pay, insecurity of hours and lack of respect which has gone on at McDonald’s for too long. We are going on strike on 12 November 2019 as workers around the world take action to hold this global multinational to account for the way that it treats its workers. We are tired of being exploited, but together we are powerful. We will win a new deal for McDonald’s workers".
The London McDonald’s stores where BFAWU members have decided to strike are: Wandsworth Town, Downham, Balham, Deptford, Catford, and Crayford.