McDonalds workers have gone on strike for the first time in UK history — here’s why

#Mcstrikers picketed McDonalds HQ on Saturday. We went along to hear why they're taking action.

Workers at two UK McDonalds stores went on strike this morning for the first time ever. On Saturday the workers and their trade union picketed the company’s head quarters in East Finchley. Here’s what they said.

Shen, a worker at McDonalds in Crayford and member of the British Food and Allied Workers’ Union (BFAWU), explained that precarious working conditions and an atmosphere of bullying by managers had forced her and her colleagues out on strike.

“We’ve had head office in stores in the lead up to this strike intimidating workers everyday. There are managers telling us we can be arrested for striking, that we can lose our jobs for going on strike,” she said.

“Workers are living out of cars, sleeping on friends’ sofas, floors. One of the workers with a four-year-old son is homeless and the management care nothing about it.”

“We have faced bullying in the workplace from managers who care nothing about our circumstances, only about the profit they can make.”

“We face bullying and harassment from the public, which has been allowed to go on.”

“We were left with no other option by McDonalds but to come together to protect ourselves. We want to make sure they’re hearing us. To make sure they know our complaints. That they can’t let us be in these positions anymore.”

“But no longer will it happen. We need a living wage for people, we need good hours, good contracts so we can have some stability”.

“We need better conditions and that all starts here. I’m incredibly proud of the workers in my store who have joined the union with me and the workers at Cambridge who have stood up as well.”

Ian Hodson, the president of the BFAWU said at the protest: “we’ve been asking McDonalds to sit down and address the concerns of their workers. Genuine concerns over how they’ve been treated.”

“But McDonalds are refusing. Firstly they refused to listen to the grievances involving harassment, sexual harassment and discrimination that their workers have, so they’re workers decided to act collectively to get them to listen.”

“Workers are having to sofa surf. These are working people. Our young people staying on colleague’s floors and sofas. What a despicable thing to happen to any person in this country when they work for the second largest employer in the world.

“McDonalds still didn’t think these workers deserved a response or a reply. Their position is that they don’t talk to trade unions, but we’re going to take the fight to them.”

More follows.

Oscar Webb is a staff writer at Left Foot Forward. He tweets here.

Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.