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Globalisation Anticapitalism :: McDonalds
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16 May 2014
In London on 15th May over 50 protesters targeted Whitehall McDonalds as part of international protests demanding an end to poverty wages, and for secure contracts with guaranteed hours and trade union rights. In the US thousands of McDonalds workers bravely joined walkouts as part of a fast growing campaign for a $15 an hour minimum wage. The 15now campaign in Seattle, spearheaded by the newly elected Socialist Alternative city councillor Kshama Sawant sent greetings and solidarity to the protest taking place in London. The protesters chanted "what do we want, union rights!" and "£10 an hour today", appealing to workers inside the store to consider joining the bakers' union (BFAWU), who initiated the Fast Food Rights campaign to fight for better conditions.
McDonald's management were clearly rattled, and had sent senior communications officials down to the store. They were obviously particularly concerned about us handing Fast Food Rights BFAWU join cards to the workers, and we were prevented from doing so by security. The protest gained a large amount of coverage on Channel 4 news in the evening.
The following link shows the coverage we received (on the headline play list at the bottom). All in all, a brilliant day for Fast Food Rights!
For an empowering two hours earlier this evening, McDonalds in Leicester was host to an international solidarity protest. Invitations had been sent out by the Bakers Food and Allied Workers Union and Youth Fight for Jobs, and the activists who came to this feast of resistance were determined and hungry for change, eager to demonstrate their support for all fast-food workers labouring under zero-hour contracts.
After talking to and distributing Fast Food Rights leaflets to workers and staff in most of Leicester's corporate fast-food chains, a dozen or so protesters then converged upon McDonalds. Here speakers proceeded to recount stories of hope, along with tales of daily oppression, and outlined a much-needed strategy for change that might bring an end to the continuing abuse of millions of workers under sub-human 'contracts'.
The inspiring example set by Hovis workers provided but just one ray of hope for change. For further details, see "Bakers rise against Hovis: Victory shows zero-hours can be beaten".
Critically, Leicester's defiant protest was just one of dozens taking place across the country, and at the event special mention was made of workers in Seattle (US) who have played a key role in helping coordinate today's global fast-food strike. In Seattle the rallying slogan today was for $15 an hour as a basic living wage for all workers.
But the progress being made in Seattle provides but one of many rays of resistance from across the Atlantic, with thousands of fast-food workers across 160 cities in the United States walking out of work today to join the biggest US fast-food strike yet that our growing movement has seen. They were building upon previous successful strike actions that are a vital part of a continuing movement to pressure giant corporations to raise wages and lift workers out of poverty.
Owing to the global nature of the exploitation of workers by fat-cat bosses and the growing organisation of the working class, simultaneous protests took place in 33 countries around the world with activists using the same twitter hash-tag (#FASTFOODGLOBAL) to link up their actions.
"The Fight for 15 in the US has caught the attention of workers around the world in a global fast-food industry where workers have recently been mobilising", said Ron Oswald, general secretary of the International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers' Associations. "And this highly profitable global industry better take note".
14 trade unionists attended Bolton's FFR protest outside the town centre McDonalds, including several from BFAWU Hovis. The protest was called by Bolton GMB and follows on from previous anti zero-hours protests organised by GMB, Unison and the trades council in Bolton and YFJ supporters active in them.
Around 15 supporters of the Fast Food Rights campaign, including Youth Fight for Jobs activists, distributed leaflets outside the St John's Centre McDonalds in Leeds.
We received a warm response from passers-by, with several people asking how they could help with the campaign in the future.
As at all previous protests we had a number of fast food workers take leaflets to sign up to the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers union.
We're planning to organise a 'Tour of Shame' in June to continue the campaign in Leeds.
Shouts of 'zero hours, no way! We're gonna make the bosses pay!' rang out across Sheffield city centre on Thursday morning as a vibrant group of protesters took to the streets to stand in solidarity with strikes of fast food workers which spanned the globe.
Fast food workers in the US have been fighting a tooth-and-claw battle against multinational corporations such as McDonalds and Burger King, whose poverty wages, precarious terms of employment and union-busting activities have driven millions of workers to the edge - and now they're fighting back.
Last December saw hundreds of thousands of workers participating in unofficial strike action in a US-wide strike, often without the protection of recognised unions.
Now the struggle is reaching the international stage, with solidarity shown on Thursday in 33 other countries.
The demonstration in Sheffield was organised by the Fast Food Rights (FFR) campaign, Youth Fight for Jobs and Sheffield Unite Community.
The campaign against zero-hour contracts and poverty pay has been ongoing for the past year, drawing attention to the 19th-century conditions which are becoming commonplace for young workers in particular.
Recent research from Unite trade union shows that as many as five million workers in the UK are on zero-hour contracts.
Even though they formally count as employed, zero-hour employees can have wildly varying working hours with no fixed income.
Sam Vickers, regional organiser for the bakers' union said: "McDonalds make $5 billion every year, and have 90% of their staff on zero-hour contracts - they can easily afford to give every employee a living wage of £8 an hour".
The fight against zero-hours is a crucial one for millions of workers - particularly the young but also many older workers.
Socialists have no faith in the vague promises given by Ed Miliband that a future Labour government would 'crack down' on zero-hours.
The only solution to these attacks on working conditions is unionisation and concerted collective action, as demonstrated by the bakers' union victory when it struck against casualisation in Wigan. Workers have the power to make zero-hours history!
Mansfield/North Derbyshire Socialist Party members held a demonstration outside McDonalds in Mansfield town centre. We gave out leaflets advertising our follow-up public meeting on zero-hour contracts to the staff in the restaurant, although the manager didn't seem too pleased!
Though there weren't a lot of people around, we got a very positive response from the young people we spoke to. It is young people, of course, who are most prone to exploitation at work, including zero-hours contracts, all in the name of profit.
Workers in the fast food industry should unionise to fight for better pay and conditions. This collective strength can put an end to the exploitation and misery so many of the real wealth creators face at work.
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Article dated 16 May 2014
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