McDonald’s workers are staging their first UK strike since the US burger chain opened in Britain over forty years ago, amid a heated row over zero-hours contracts and claims of workplace bullying.
The 24 hour strike began at midnight at two outlets owned by the fast food giant which has been selling its burgers to Britons since 1974.
The Baker’s, Food and Allies Workers Union (BFAWU) said the staff had been left no alternative but to take “the historic step” after McDonald’s management failed to meet calls for better job security by ending controversial zero-hours contracts.
<img class=”responsive article-body-image-image” src=”/content/dam/business/2016/02/18/McDonalds_Burger_E_3299494b_trans_NvBQzQNjv4BqpJliwavx4coWFCaEkEsb3kvxIt-lGGWCWqwLa_RXJU8.jpg?imwidth=480″ alt=”Burger”>
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The fast food workers in Crayford, near Dartford, and Cambridge are not officially unionised but are being represented by the BFAWU on this matter. The union’s ballot found 95.7pc in favour of strike.
“Despite all the attempts to change McDonald’s approach and help them become a fairer employer, nothing has been done on their side. Nothing has changed. Empty promises have been made. Yet nothing has been delivered,” said Ian Hodson, national leader of the BFAWU.
The staff are calling for pay to be increased to £10 an hour, up from the minimum wage of £7.50 for staff aged 25 and above. BFAWU said the fight for higher wages follows a campaign in the US, where staff are fighting for $15 an hour.
McDonald’s, which employs about 85,000 people in the UK, said it gave its staff the choice of flexible or fixed contracts with minimum guaranteed hours, but 86pc chose to stay on flexible contracts.
A spokesman for the fast food giant said the grievance is related solely to internal procedures and would affect less than 0.01pc of its workforce across just two of its 1,270 UK restaurants.
“McDonald’s UK and its franchisees have delivered three pay rises since April 2016, this has increased the average hourly pay rate by 15pc,” the spokesman added.
Mr Hobson said the voice against low pay “will not go away”.
“There is growing global movement calling for the fair and decent treatment of workers. In the US for example, the Service Employees International Union have shown the importance of collective action – with their ‘Fight for $15’ campaign having seen more than 10 million workers move towards a $15 minimum wage, and with 20 million workers in total having won wage increases since 2012,” he said.
“Hopefully, senior figures at McDonald’s will be listening,” he added.