It’s time for McDonald’s to give its workers a new deal. I’ve worked at McDonald’s for six years, and today I’m on strike for the fourth time. McDonald’s workers everywhere face poverty pay, insecure hours and a lack of basic respect. But we are growing bigger with every strike, and together we will win.
We made history when we first went on strike in 2017. We won the biggest pay rise McDonald’s workers have had in 10 years, and showed that when we come together and fight, we are strong. In the branch I work at in south London, conditions improved for a while. A manager who had been abusive and made the workplace a hostile environment lost their job. Other managers had to think twice about how they treated us when they knew there was a union presence.
During the first strike, a lot of our regular customers supported our picket and refused to go into the store,. That made me feel valued – that the customers aren’t just there for McDonald’s, they care about the employees.
If the union and McDonald’s could work together, we’d be able to resolve these problems, and they would have a more motivated workforce
Although things initially improved, they have slipped back, and we’re still paid poverty wages. This is why the McStrike is back, and this time we’re demanding £15 an hour, guaranteed hours, and for McDonald’s to recognise the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers’ Union.
London is one of the most expensive cities in world to live in, yet McDonald’s pays barely more than the minimum wage. I get £8.80 an hour, and by the time I’ve paid rent and bills, I don’t have enough to live on. I had to work full time while I was studying at university just to be able to support myself. London rent is astronomical, yet our wages stay the same.
McDonald’s can afford to pay us £15 an hour. It may seem like a lot to some, but the company makes more than £1m in profit every day in the UK alone: £406m in 2018 after tax. McDonald’s recently fired chief executive Steve Easterbrook will receive an exit package of around $40m (even though he breached company policy by having a relationship with an employee). His hourly wage was several thousand times higher than the global average for a McDonald’s worker.
People are saying that other workers don’t get paid that much, but we say that everyone should be organising in their workplace and demanding a fair wage that they can afford to live off. Everyone should be paid fairly; everyone should be able to afford to pay for rent, food and bills and not be scraping by.
We’re also demanding the option of guaranteed hours because it’s stressful never knowing each week whether we’ll be given just enough hours to survive on or none at all. I know people who have been working at McDonald’s for 10 years or longer, yet still don’t have any job security. It’s not fair – they have given years of service and yet they’ve nothing to show for it.
We’ve had to fight every step of the way. Young workers were told they could be arrested for going on strike, or that they’d be given zero hours if they took part in any union activity. But being in a union means we know our rights. We haven’t had any negotiations with our employers – they’ve refused to meet with the union. This is why we’re demanding that McDonald’s respects and recognises our union. Having recognition would mean that a lot more staff could join the union, and it would make organising a lot easier.
Organising with the McStrike has been an amazing experience – helping workers come together and show our strength in numbers motivates me. When workers stand together and fight against companies, we start winning things. It’s great to see this happening in a precarious workplace such as McDonald’s, where people never thought there would be a union presence.
I’m excited about going on strike for the fourth time, but I hope it’s the last. I hope that McDonald’s starts taking its employees seriously, and starts listening to us. Whichever McDonald’s you go to, you hear the same stories from staff about the problems they’re facing. If the union and McDonald’s could work together, we’d be able to resolve these problems, and they would have a more motivated workforce.
Instead of listening to what we’ve been demanding, McDonald’s has tried to dismiss us, saying there were only a few of us. Around 30 workers from six McDonald’s branches in south London have been striking today. So please come out to support us. When we go out on strike and see how much support we have from the public, it’s really inspiring. When we see people out on the street, it’s overwhelming. It gives us the confidence to stand up to this mega-corporation and demand a decent wage and respect at work.