McDonald's workers in Britain called for a “McStrike” on May Day to demand three simple things: a 10 pounds per hour minimum wage, the end of zero-hours contracts and the right to unionize.
Workers from at least five different branches in Manchester, Watford, Crayford and Cambridge walked out Tuesday, May 1st, in demand of their labor rights, with the support of the country's fast food and trade unions.
In September 2017, the Crayford and Cambridge branches made history when they organized the first McDonald's strike since the fast food chain opened its first store in the U.K. in 1974, asking for the same things as today.
The workers demand a definite end to the zero-hours contracts, a term used in the U.K. to define on-call contracts, with no fixed schedules nor wages for workers.
The Bakers Food and Allied Workers Union are supporting McDonald's workers in their struggle, demanding the option for fixed-hour contracts, fair wages for youth workers and union recognition.
McDonald's has different payment rates for staff depending on their age, paying significantly less to younger workers. The 2017's protests achieved the biggest pay raise in McDonald's history, but they were still tied to the age system.
Even after the January 2018 raises, workers between 16 and 17 years old make a minimum of 5.75 pounds and a maximum of 7 pounds an hour, while staff that are 25 years old and over make between 8 and 10 pounds.
The raise was conditioned by position, region and age, and it was only mandatory for the company-owned restaurants, which represent about a quarter of the total branches in Britain.
Using the hashtags #McStrike and #MayDay along with #LabourRights, workers in the United Kingdom are uniting in demand of their rights, in what could represent the beginning of a fast food workers' revolution.
But McDonald's U.K. responded to the strike and protests with a corporate video showing an employee who chose the “flexible contract” over the fixed one, aiming to discredit the McStrike on May Day.
“Everyone has now been offered a minimum guaranteed hours contract. However, around 80% of our people have selected to stay on flexible contracts because they value the opportunity to fit their work around their other commitments,” posted McDonald's UK in their official Twitter account.
But workers are not impressed by the response. "This international workers day we will send a message to McDonald’s, the world’s second largest employer, that the labour movement is back and ready for action,” said Annalise Peters, a worker at a branch in Cambridge.
"We won’t stop until we McDonald’s respects our human rights to a living wage of £10 an hour and our right to a union."
As part of the strike, the McDonald's workers planned a demonstration in Watford, hometown of the company's CEO Steve Easterbrook, who reportedly earns 5,500 pounds an hour.
Even though reports say that about 40 McDonald's staff members went on strike Monday, an official declaration by the company stated that only 11 workers confirmed their willingness to strike.
"Officially eleven of our 120,000 people are intending to take industrial action across five of our 1,270 restaurants on May 1,” a McDonald's spokesman told Mirror Online.
"While we are disappointed, given our focus on putting people at the heart of our business, we are reassured that this number is an extremely small proportion of our UK workforce.” The spokesman also said they received reports that activitst intimidated other staff members, and that they will investigate the issue.