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Sat, 6 June 2020

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Jeremy Corbyn backs striking McDonald's staff as top Labour figures pile in

Jeremy Corbyn backs striking McDonald's staff as top Labour figures pile in

Emilio Casalicchio

3 min read

Jeremy Corbyn today led senior Labour figures in hailing McDonald’s workers striking over pay and conditions.

The Labour leader said frustrated employees of the fast food outlets were “making history”, while his second-in-command John McDonnell said the anger would “escalate”.

And a prominent Labour MP and former employee of the chain told PoliticsHome staff should "be paid wages they can actually live on".

Staff at two restaurants have walked out demanding trade union recognition, curbs on the use of zero-hour contracts and a pay rise to £10 an hour. It is the first time the company has been hit by strikes in the UK.

Mr Corbyn tweeted that the workers’ demands were “just and should be met” as he posted a message of support on his Facebook and Twitter pages.

“Labour offers support & solidarity to the brave McDonald's workers in the bakers' union who are making history today,” he said.

“Their actions remind us that when people come together, organise and campaign for a better world, they can change history.

“Now is the time for all fast food workers, the young, the low-paid and the unorganised to join trade unions and organise in their workplaces to improve their lives.

“Labour will stand with them as we build a country that works for the many not the few.”

Shadow Chancellor Mr McDonnell meanwhile predicted the strikes over McDonald’s pay and conditions – currently limited to the Cambridge and Crayford branches – would spread.

"We will see this escalating now," he told the Daily Mirror.


Ilford North MP Wes Streeting told PoliticsHome: "McDonalds can and should pay their staff better wages and recognise a trade union to enable a better dialogue with its workforce and make strikes like the one today less likely.

"Working at McDonalds helped me pay my way through my A-levels, but whether their workers are young part-time workers or working full-time, people need to be paid wages they can actually live on.

"This is a case I continue to make to my former employer."

Other Labour MPs posted messages of support for the striking McDonald’s staff on Twitter.

One of the employees, Lewis Baker, explained in an article for the Huffington Post that his colleagues’ grievances had been “ignored by the company, time and time again”.

“We are not asking for a lot. We are asking to be treated with respect, have guaranteed hours, and to be paid a decent living wage of £10 that we can afford to live on,” he said.

“It’s all very reasonable when you actually think about it.”

McDonald’s, which employs about 85,000 staff in the UK, said three pay rises had been awarded to employees in the past year and 86% of its workers had opted to keep flexible shift arrangements when asked in April.

A McDonald's spokesman said “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”.

They added: "As per the terms of the ballot, the dispute is solely related to our internal grievance procedures and not concerning pay or contracts."