Workers at two McDonald’s restaurants have walked out in a row over pay and conditions, in the first-ever strike to hit the fast food giant in the UK.
Staff at the chain’s branches in Cambridge and Crayford had voted overwhelmingly in favour of industrial action amid concerns over the use of zero-hour contracts.
As well as demanding more secure working patterns, the striking workers also want to be paid a wage of at least £10 an hour.
The Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU) said the decision was taken after McDonald’s missed “countless opportunities to resolve grievances”.
Ian Hodson, the union’s national president, added: “We fully support the historic decision by these brave workers to stand up and fight back against McDonald’s – a company that has let them down one too many times. This is a call for change.
“For far too long, workers in fast food restaurants such as McDonald’s have had to deal with poor working conditions, drastic cuts to employee hours, and even bullying in the workplace – viewed by many as punishment for joining a union.”
Members of other trade unions also also joined picket lines outside the two restaurants.
One worker told Sky News: “Working for McDonald’s is hard work. People seem to think that working for fast food restaurants is an easy job – it’s not.
“One of the reasons why I’m out here is because I don’t feel we get paid enough for the amount of work we do behind those counters.”
McDonald’s employs approximately 115,000 staff in the UK and one million worldwide.
In April, the company announced its workers would be offered a choice of flexible or fixed contracts with minimum guaranteed hours – but claims 86% wanted to stick with a flexible arrangement.
A McDonald’s spokesman added: “The BFAWU has indicated that a small number of our people representing less than 0.01% of our workforce are intending to strike in two of our 1,270 UK restaurants.
“As per the terms of the ballot, the dispute is solely related to our internal grievance procedures and not concerning pay or contracts.”
McDonald’s claims that three pay rises have been delivered to staff since April 2016, increasing the average hourly rate by 15%.
Striking workers and their supporters also staged a rally in Westminster, with Jeremy Corbyn and shadow chancellor John McDonnell offering their support.
Applauding them for “making history”, the Labour leader said: “They are standing up for workers’ rights by leading the first-ever strike at McDonald’s in the UK.
“Their demands are just and should be met.”
Caroline Russell, Green Party assembly member for London, said: “Despite what McDonald’s might like you to think, it’s clear their workers are not in fact ‘lovin’ it’.
“The anxiety their informal contracts has created, the pressure they are under to find additional jobs to support their income, and the embarrassment they feel when they cannot pay for the basic things for their family, has pushed them to the brink.”