CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

McDonald’s protest in support of striking fast food workers

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell says that Labour MPs should support strike action

04 October, 2018 — By William McLennan

Protesters gathered outside McDonald’s in Camden Town this afternoon in support of fast food workers striking over pay.

Around ten people waved banners and handed out leaflets calling for a £10 minimum wage for all.

The protest was called in support of the “McStrike” industrial action – a series of co-ordinated walkouts involving staff from McDonald’s, Wetherspoons, TGI Fridays and UberEats delivery drivers.

Leaflets heralded the action as a “historically co-ordinated hospitality strike”. But both the American restaurant chains sought to downplay the significance of the strike.

McDonald’s said today that no staff from any of their London restaurants took part. TGI Fridays said: “Out of a workforce of over 5,500 team members, fewer than 0.5% are involved in this action”

The Camden High Street protest was organised by Camden Momentum and Unite Community Camden.

Protester Gareth Murphy said: “We are asking for a minimum wage of £10 in all of the country, £12 probably in London, and for all ages to be paid the same wage. When 17-year-olds go into a shop, they don’t get charged different prices for a tin of beans, they are charged the same as everyone else.”

Responding to the restaurant chains’ claims of low employee support for the strikes, Mr Murphy said: “We are here to spread the message to the young people that things don’t have to be like this.

“Lots of these are young workers, they’ve simply never heard of trade unions, they don’t know what trade unions do. Lots of people don’t realise that things we have that we take for granted, like paid holiday, sick leave, the weekend, these came about by people fighting for them with the unions. ”

Earlier in the day, shadow chancellor John McDonnell told a crowd of striking workers in Leicester Square that “the election of Jeremy Corbyn has transformed the Labour party, both in terms of the policies we are advocating, but also the role that we are playing.”

He added: “Last night a briefing went out to all Labour MPs, which basically said if there is a picket line in your constituency your responsibility is to join it. It made it absolutely clear that the Labour party is 100 per cent behind these strikes, the demonstrations, the actions that have been taken by workers themselves to achieve just a decent pay rise and to achieve decent conditions at work.”

TGI Fridays said in a statement: “Our team members are a part of our Fridays family. We believe they should be – and are – treated and paid fairly. All team members are paid at or above the National Minimum Wage hourly rate and they keep 100% of tips with zero admin charges. Team members’ pay is regularly reviewed.”

It said that “turnover is around half of the average for the hospitality industry”.

McDonald’s said: “It is frustrating that these protests have impacted some of our restaurants today – for both our people and our customers. None of our employees went on strike, unfortunately some of our restaurants have been affected by an unrelated dispute between Uber and their drivers.”

Wetherspoon said they offer free shares to staff, along with bonuses and discounted foods, which “should be taken into account in assessing pay”.

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