On 4th September 2017 low paid McDonald’s workers went on strike to protest at appalling workplace conditions and demand a genuine living wage, trade union representation and job security. It was the first ever McDonald’s strike in the UK. Shen Batmaz, one of those involved in the strike tells us why they took action.
Struggling to get by
“McDonald’s workers, just like a lot of workers in the UK on low pay and zero hours contracts, are facing really difficult positions in life. They don’t know when their next meal is going to be, they don’t know whether they can clothe themselves and their children.”
“I know workers at McDonald’s who do extra shifts because sometimes the only meal they get is their meal at work, that’s really upsetting.”
We were being ignored
“We joined the BFAWU union because wanted to protect each other; we wanted to work together to change things. We were following McDonald’s procedure, putting in grievances and trying to get things changed and we were being ignored. We realised the only way forward was to take drastic action.”
What were you campaigning for?
“We went out on strike with very simple demands: we wanted a wage that we could live on, an end to zero hours contracts and union recognition within the workplace.”
What did the strike achieve?
“We won two things out of our strike, we got rid of two bullying managers and we won a choice of contracts for McDonald’s workers across the UK. McDonald’s response to our strike was that we were just 0.01% of the workforce, but 0.01% of the workforce coming out to fight together won the rest of the country contracts!”
“It was scary but uplifting. We stood on the picket line together, arm in arm, and decided that we were going to help each other and fight for each other.”
“The way that we reached workers in McDonald’s was to explain that a union is workers coming together to change things they can’t change on their own. We’re coming together and we’re changing things, because the power of many together is more than the power of one.”