Socialist Worker

Restaurant strikers unite to demand pay rise of £10 an hour and union recognition

by Alistair Farrow
Issue No. 2625

A rally at Leicester Square drew strikers and their supporters

A rally at Leicester Square drew strikers and their supporters (Pic: Socialist Worker)


Restaurant and pub workers struck against on poverty pay on Thursday.

TGI Fridays, McDonald's and Wetherspoon all had sites closed as workers walked out.

Deliveroo and Uber Eats delivery riders also took part.

The demands of the strikes are different, but the message is clear. As Beattie from TGI Fridays told Socialist Worker, "It's all about the same thing— pay, dignity at work and trade union recognition."

Cities including Brighton, Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow, Manchester, Newcastle, Plymouth and Southampton saw people taking part.

Workers travelled to Leicester Square in central London for a rally at 11am. Over 100 people attended.

Labour shadow chancellor John McDonnell spoke to the crowd.

"A Labour government will guarantee full employment rights from day one," he said, pledging "£10 an hour when Labour comes into office."

"We'll always abide by the real living wage," he said.

Responsibility

McDonnell also said a message has gone out to every Labour MP telling them if a picket line happens in their constituency, "It's your responsibility to attend it."

Wetherspoon striker Jessie described how they built the union, resulting in 40 strikers travelling up to London from Brighton.

"It began with small issues inside the pubs—victimisation was a big thing in one pub.

"We began by approaching people and saying we are going to address these things collectively." Workers started collecting signatures and launching grievances. The whole process took them little more than six months.

"We fixed the small things together and then it was a natural thing for people to join the union," said Jessie. "It's been incredible."

And workers who have already been out on strike are already seeing the benefit of being in a union.

"Things are happening," said TGI Fridays striker Lauren. "We've got meals on shifts back after management took them away in some stores. And they've stopped clocking us back."

Clocking back is when management round workers' hours down to the nearest hour as a punishment or to save on the cost of wages.

"They're just starting to know that we are picking up on this stuff and they can't get away with it anymore," said Lauren.

Striking traffic wardens from Camden came down to the rally in solidarity. They are striking for a pay rise to £11.15 an hour.

TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady also came down to show her support.

Workers and trade union officials from the US and France joined the Leicester Square rally.

The fight for decent pay in the food industry is heating up.


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