Socialist Worker

Workers take to the picket lines for first ever McDonald's strike in Britain

by Tomáš Tengely-Evans
Issue No. 2570

McDonalds strikers in Crayford, south east London, cheer as they mount their first ever picket line

McDonald's strikers in Crayford, south east London, cheer as they mount their first ever picket line (Pic: Socialist Worker)


McDonald’s workers have launched the first-ever strike at the multinational in Britain today, Monday.

Bfawu union members at two stores—Cambridge, and Crayford in south east London—mounted picket lines this morning. Their action is part of the Fast Food Rights campaign’s national day of action for £10 an hour minimum wage and union rights.

Stephanie was the first McDonald's worker to walk off shift this morning to cheers of fellow workers and supporters.

“I was overwhelmed by the amount of people who were there to support us," she told Socialist Worker. “This is the first time I've done anything like this.

“Normally when I've had a problem at work I've just got another job, but now I'm making a difference, not just for me but other workers.

“We here for £10 an hour because we deserve it, we're worth more than what we get, we're being short-changed.”

Shen, a leading Bfawu member at the Crayford store, said, “I’m striking to fight for a better living wage for every single person and better treatment of McDonald’s, fast food and service workers”.

The workers voted to strike by 95.6 percent over a number of issues in the stores. Shen said, “It’s McDonald’s that has led us to this point, it’s the way McDonald’s treated us and allowed bullying and sexual harassment to carry on.

“This cannot be allowed to go on—and if we all come together, we can change things and win.”

Workers from both stores now plan to rally from 10.30am in Old Palace Yard opposite parliament. They will be joined by supporters, trade unionists and Labour’s shadow chancellor John McDonnell.

They are showing that’s it’s possible to build the union and fight in a sector that’s hard to organise.

Bfawu president Ian Hodson told Socialist Worker, “McDonald’s have been given notice.They can look at pay and the other issues or this will spread across the country—it’s two stores today, it could be 20 tomorrow, 40 next year.”

Widespread support for the workers’ action shows there is a mood to fight against poverty pay. Union leaders need to mobilise their members and call national action off the back of that mood.

Hodson said, “Trade unions are looking at the McDonald’s workers and it can give more confidence to the trade union movement.”

Every trade union and campaigner should build support for their struggle. This has to be the beginning of more industrial action at McDonald’s—and solidarity can boost workers confidence to carry on.

As Shen said, “This is the first of many strikes and we need the support of everyone to be able to win against a massive corporation.

“I want everyone to support us because we can’t do it alone.”

Shen will speak at a Unite the Resistance solidarity meeting in central London tonight (see below). Other speakers include Bfawu general secretary Ronnie Draper and British Airways cabin crew rep Zimeon Jones.

Activists are also organising solidarity events in towns and cities across Britain, including Manchester, Birmingham, Sheffield and Cardiff, as part of a Fast Food Rights campaign day or action.

Go to Facebook event Solidarity with McStrike: Public Meeting for details of the Unite the Resistance meeting
For a full list of the solidarity actions go to fastfoodrights.wordpress.com

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