Staff at McDonald’s in Cambridge and Crayford have voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike action, and will walk out on 4 September. This is the first ever strike at a British McDonalds, and the strikers are part of a growing movement of precarious and vulnerable workers who have been organising and fighting for better pay and conditions in recent years. The striking workers are demanding £10 per hour, more secure working hours, and recognition of the right to form a trade union as employees of the company.
Workers in the service sector, such as cleaners, delivery, bar and restaurant staff, endure some of the worst conditions at work: insecure employment, inadequate wages, and terrible working conditions, coupled with the threat of being easily replaced should they miss work or stand up for their rights, wreak havoc on their physical and mental health. There is a constant narrative driven by employers and the media that these are only ‘starter’ or part-time jobs, just for teenagers or people who need a bit of extra cash, and that therefore workers should not expect decent pay or conditions. This is nonsense! For many people these jobs are the only ones available, and many find themselves working two or even three different jobs to make ends meet. It is entirely within the means of any business to provide a living wage for their staff.
Striking workers fighting to improve their lot often face criticism from people that should be supporting them. Capitalist propaganda tries to tell us that strikers are just greedy, and are already paid too much for the work they do, pitting worker against fellow worker. In reality, we all have the same interests, and a victory for one group of workers is a victory for all workers. If we allow the capitalists to enforce worse conditions on other workers today, tomorrow they will be coming for us. Rather than accepting what we’re given, we should support striking workers and ask ourselves: ‘Why don’t I have better pay and conditions at work?’
Although we’re told that we all need to tighten our belts owing to the financial crisis, these companies are reporting huge profits – profits made at the expense of their workers. It is only when workers are united that we can stand up for ourselves, and secure our right to a dignity at work. Individually we are powerless, together we are a force!
What can you do?
Help build support for the striking workers. Join the following actions on the 4 September:
- the picket on Monday 4 September at Crayford McDonald’s from 6am
- the rally opposite parliament from 10:30am
- the demonstration outside King’s Cross McDonald’s from 12 noon
- the demonstration outside Brixton McDonald’s at 5pm
- a meeting at Dragon Hall, 17 Stukeley Street, WC2B 5LT from 7:30pm
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