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WORKERS told McDonald’s bosses they “won’t keep on getting away” with handing people poverty pay, as the fast food giant was rocked by strike action across London yesterday.
Members of the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers’ Union (BFAWU) shut down six branches of the transnational food chain across the capital.
The workers were demanding wages of £15 per hour, the choice of guaranteed hours of up to 40 hours a week, respect and dignity on the shop floor and an end to youth rates of pay.
They also want shift rotas to be organised and given to workers a month in advance and are demanding that BFAWU be recognised in McDonald’s branches.
At a community picket in Wandsworth, Labour MPs Keir Starmer and Marsha de Cordova joined the crowds, as well as Labour’s Streatham parliamentary candidate Bell Ribeiro-Addy and members of London Young Labour.
Ms de Cordova promised strikers that Labour will fight to end poverty wages and zero-hours contracts, and ensure that big businesses “pay their damn taxes.”
Striker Melissa Evans, who has to rely on welfare alongside her wages, told the crowd: “I am striking to show my son there’s more to life than this poverty.
“We need change right now. We have had enough of living in poverty and working for nothing.
“Right now, I don’t have a penny to my name. You go home, and you just get in your bed and cry yourself to sleep.
“You wake up and you can still hear the beeps from the tills in your head.”
Strikers then held a rally outside 10 Downing Street, where they were met by BFAWU leaders Ronnie Draper and Ian Hodson.
Mr Hodson told the Star that the demand for £15 per hour was set after the union’s research that a £10 per hour wage would not meet workers’ needs.
He said: “For someone working on the living wage 35 hours a week, travelling into London and paying their bills costs them 106 per cent of their wages. And most workers are not even on a living wage.
“Wages that enable them to have a decent standard of living, pay their rent, energy and travel, and give them the ability to buy food is really an expectation of any worker.”
Mr Hodson warned that taxpayers were “left footing the bill” and public services suffer “when employers are allowed to exploit workers” and avoid paying taxes.
Crayford McDonald’s striker Lewis Baker, a McStrike veteran who is on his fourth round of strike action, told protesters: “It doesn’t matter how much I go on strike — I’ll be out on my fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth strike until McDonald’s accept our demands.
“McDonald’s won’t keep on getting away with it and we won’t let them.”
Labour shadow chancellor John McDonnell also promised that if McDonald’s workers went on strike under a Labour government led by Jeremy Corbyn, he would invite them into 11 Downing Street.
He said: “We are not asking the Earth – we are asking for workers to be treated with decency by a company which does very well out of the people who create all the wealth for it.”
They were also joined by other previous strikers, such as TGI Friday’s and Wetherspoons strikers.
Brighton Wetherspoons striker Alex McIntyre, who travelled from Brighton to show his support, told the Star: “As a low-paid hospitality worker, I feel like it’s just to show my solidarity with strikers today.
“These workers are the unrepresented mass that prop up our economy, but we still don’t have our rights, we don’t have pay we can live on, and it’s about time that changes.”
A McDonald’s spokesman said: “We are extremely disappointed that a very small number of our people in just a handful of our restaurants are considering industrial action.
“We understand only nine people are involved across six restaurants, which is a tiny proportion of our 130,000 workforce and 1,300 restaurants.
“Their potential actions do not represent our people. We are committed to investing in our workforce, listening to and doing what is right by them.”
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