HUNDREDS of striking McDonald’s, TGI Fridays, Wetherspoon, and Uber Eats mostly young workers held a joint rally in London’s Leicester Square on Thursday. They chanted: ‘What do we want, fair pay now! I believe that we can win! If we don’t get it – shut it down!’
Speakers at the rally chaired by BFAWU general secretary Ronnie Draper included TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady and Labour’s shadow chancellor John McDonnell. McDonnell brought a message of support from Jeremy Corbyn and pledged: ‘The Labour Party is 100% behind the strike and a real pay rise’ adding that a Labour government will legislate ‘worker’s rights from day one, a £10 an hour minimum wage, and end zero hours contracts.’
TGI Fridays striker Lauren Townsend told the crowd: ‘TGI Fridays took 40 per cent of our tips to give to the kitchen staff. ‘On the Minimum Wage someone under 21 gets £5 an hour. Food is no cheaper. ‘It seems every year we’re given more work and get less for it. ‘We are fighting unscrupulous employers who are taking advantage of workers. We’ve had enough.’
BFAWU executive committee member Lauren McCourt said: ‘At McDonald’s we had a strike against low pay and zero hours contracts. ‘It was the first time we felt we had any power in the workplace. We’re fighting for the future. ‘Workers at McDonald’s, TGI Fridays and Wetherspoons stand together. ‘We want a better life and working conditions. We’re going to have to fight for a living wage, to fight for a union.’
Uber Eats strike Lynn told the rally: ‘Tonight at 5pm we will turn off our apps and picket outside McDonald’s. ‘We are a series of dots on a screen.
‘If we do two drops in an hour we get £8. Sometimes we get no drops. At Uber we are all classed as self-employed.
‘Uber provides a service 24 hours a day and they want us to bear our own costs. We need to all take the momentum back to our managers. ‘When we act together like this we stop being invisible. ‘£5, £6, £7 an hour is not acceptable. We stick up for each other. Last week we brought the road to a standstill. ‘We are people, not dots in a machine. So let’s strike together so we get what we want.’
Wetherspoon striker Shen Batmaz said: ‘We can’t afford our rent.
‘We are demanding £10 an hour. Wetherspoon said they will not raise our wages, they will give us shares. ‘Shares don’t pay my rent, shares don’t pay for my food to feed my family.’
Earlier, Lauren McCourt had told News Line on the Brixton McDonald’s morning picket line: ‘The workers are striking today for a £10 an hour wage and an end to youth pay rates, a choice of fixed hours contracts and union recognition. ‘McDonald’s won’t recognise our union and refuse to negotiate with us. ‘It’s important we have a union. The majority of people are on zero hours contracts. ‘There’s people working at McDonald’s who are living in their cars or sleeping on sofas because they can’t afford to pay their rent.’
Annalise Peters from Newmarket, Cambridgeshire, also joined fellow McDonald’s strikers on the morning picket line in Brixton. She told News Line: ‘Today is very special. The mixed strike movement started September last year and we are seeing it growing so fast. ‘Now there are other restaurants and hospitality employees getting on board and joining the movement.’
Annalise told News Line at the rally: ‘I’m striking against zero hours contracts.
‘I want a living wage for all ages so you don’t get paid less if you’re under 18.
‘A lot of young people work at McDonald’s. We are overworked and underpaid. ‘For the most part, people are treated like they’re dispensable. Joining the union is the best way to go.’
Anita Taylor, from McDonald’s Caxton in Cambridgeshire, said: ‘I’m on strike today.
‘I want an end to zero hours, to be treated properly and equal rights. ‘Anything that goes wrong, I always get the blame. This is my first strike. ‘I will strike again to get a decent pay rise and my rights. It’s good to be with the union.’
Oscar Edwards from Wetherspoon in Brighton said: ‘I’m on strike today. I’ve worked at Wetherspoon for one year. ‘During my time there, especially living on the South Coast where house prices are extortionate, the wage we are paid simply isn’t fair and isn’t good enough.
‘J.D. Wetherspoon as a brand makes millons of pounds of profit each year with Tim Martin reaping the benefits. ‘Yet we’ve seen none of that as employees – not event getting a free meal in the lunch hour. We get a 50% discount! ‘That’s why I’m on strike today, because I hope I can change that for myself and my colleagues and future hospitality workers as well.’
BFAWU leader Draper made the point the movement of hospitality workers is international and introduced speakers from France McDonald’s strikers, the USA and Thailand. Unite national officer Mike Roberts said: ‘It’s a scandal. Workers are not properly paid. ‘Workers have said they’ve had enough. They are standing up, rising up.
‘TGI Friday’s if you think you can keep taking tips you are making a big mistake.’
A French striker told the rally: ‘My name is Gabriel, I work for France McDonald’s.
‘I’m here to make more than a promise, we are determined. ‘We facing union busting, social dumping and terrible working conditions. ‘We are suffering the same things that you are.’
US speaker Betty said: ‘We’re fighting $7 and hour. I’m sure you can get £10 an hour.
‘We’re fighting for $15 an hour. ‘We’ll keep fighting and we will win.’ Camden Unison member Emmanuel told the crowd: ‘I’m here today because we are on strike for five days. ‘We are traffic wardens working for private company NSL.
‘We are asking for £11.15 an hour and for better working conditions. ‘We are here because we know our comrades are also on strike. We are all working together and we will win. ‘Solidarity to you, so let’s strike together until we get what we want.’
Earlier, TUC leader O’Grady told the rally: ‘Let this be the time and place when workers say we are not going to take it any more. ‘We are fighting back and organising.
‘We are not asking for a minimum wage or a living wage we’re asking for a fair wage. The way you do that is through a trade union. ‘The multinational companies have deep pockets, they can afford a pay rise and pay their tax, too. ‘We are going to carry on fighting until we win.’