Chants of “I believe that we can win” rang out in front of parliament as McDonald’s strikers and their supporters rallied this lunchtime, Monday.
Workers at two stores—Cambridge, and Crayford in south east London—walked out this morning in the first ever McDonald’s strike in Britain.
It is part of a national day of action by the Fast Food Rights campaign for £10 an hour minimum wage and union recognition.
Nearly all of the workers are first-time strikers. Lewis, a Bfawu union member at the Crayford store, told Socialist Worker, “I’ve been on lots of protests before, but this is the first time I’ve been on strike.
“It’s exciting that we’re finally fighting back.”
The walkout gave workers a sense of their power to take on the bosses—and support on the picket lines boosted their confidence to fight.
At the Cambridge picket line trade unionists, including the FBU fire fighters’ union, came to show their solidarity. Tom, a Bfawu member at the Cambridge store, told Socialist Worker, “The amount of support we’ve had has been phenomenal.
“It’s very exciting, this is the first time everyone has been on strike.”
Workers have won support from the Labour leadership. John McDonnell, Labour’s shadow chancellor, told the rally, “This is just the start until McDonald’s sits down and negotiates with the union.
“This is the start of action that will bring all the fast food employers the table.”
Jeremy Corbyn sent a message of solidarity. Other Labour MPs, including John Speller and Emma Dent Coe also spoke at the rally.
Ronnie Draper, Bfawu general secretary, told the rally, “More people are going to take inspiration from what you’ve done. We can win this together.”
Draper also urged people to support the left wing Labour leadership. “Let’s stay with them, back them to get into government and we can get what we want,” he said.
It’s important that trade unions support Corbyn. The atmosphere generated by Corbyn’s leadership helped workers build the union at work.
But the workers are right to fight for £10 an hour now—not just by 2020 as the Labour Party promised in its manifesto.
Joe Carolan, who’d brought solidarity from the Unite union in New Zealand, spoke at the Crayford picket line. “If you want to get rid of the Tories don’t just leave it to Jeremy and John, surrounded by those rats in parliament,” he said.
“Let’s get a strike and bring the government down.”
Workers have shown they are determined to fight back—and want to build on what they’ve achieved. Lewis said, “Since the ballot started we got another ten members, people are coming up and asking how they can join the union.
“We’ve had managers telling people that they’re not allowed to strike. But after today the other workers will see that we can.”
Tom added, “This is just the beginning of the campaign, our strike can inspire those still going in and other workers.”
Bfawu must call further action to keep pressure up on McDonald’s bosses.
This evening Shen, a leading union member at the Crayford store, will speak at a Unite the Resistance solidarity meeting in central London. Other speakers include Draper, British Airways cabin crew worker Zimeon Jones.
Solidarity actions are also planned by Fast Food Rights campaigners across Britain.