Fast food workers: Hungry for decent pay and working conditions
17th February 2014
Ian Pattison, Youth Fight for Jobs
A new campaign is seeking to replace fast food exploitation with fast food rights. A recent Unite the Union survey showed that scandalously 5.5 million workers in Britain are on super-exploitative zero-hour contracts.
Burger King and Domino's Pizza are among the fast food employers known to recruit nearly their entire workforce on zero-hour contracts.
The Bakers, Food and Allied Workers' Union (BFAWU) and others launched a Fast Food Rights (FFR) initiative to help workers suffering these horrendous conditions.
BFAWU raised the sights of workers everywhere when its strike at the Hovis factory in Wigan showed that zero-hour contracts can be beaten.
Increasingly workers are forced into low-paid, super-exploitative jobs in the fast food industry. However, given the lack of decent secure work, fast food workers cannot expect these to only be stop-gaps as may have been the case prior to the recession.
This makes fertile ground for the demand that the super-rich multinational companies pay a living wage.
A KFC worker said: "We need a fighting union that will campaign for solid contracts and a living wage of £10 an hour, by calling for industrial action if necessary.
"We need shop stewards to stop unfair dismissals, bullying and harassment in the workplace."
With Youth Fight for Jobs and other FFR supporters BFAWU is calling a national day of action on Saturday 15 February.
We've been inspired by the movement in the USA. Some fast food workers there have taken unofficial strike action, demanding a $15 an hour minimum wage, to reflect the real cost of living (see 15now.org).
This movement even helped propel one of its key supporters, Socialist Alternative's Kshama Sawant, to victory in Seattle's city council election.
Last year, Youth Fight for Jobs launched the 'Are You Sick of Your Boss?' initiative, taking up the scourge of under-employment.
Armed with leaflets, Youth Fight for Jobs supporters marched straight into shops and handed them to staff.
FFR will be doing the same on its day of action, this time handing recruitment forms for the BFAWU to fast food workers.
With Fast Food Rights we've already done preparatory work, leafleting staff in these stores to explain our protest is not against them but the fat cat corporations like McDonalds.
BFAWU is taking on the urgent task of trying to organise the unorganised. The FFR campaign has the potential to bring fast food workers into the unions, strengthening them and the fight for all workers' rights.
Fast Food Rights day of action
London - meet at the corner of Tottenham Court Road at 1pm, to march along Oxford Street, talking to fast food workers