Reports of protests across the country – more to follow!
30 people marched through Lewisham town centre protesting outside Subway, McDonalds, Burger King and KFC. The protest got a brilliant response from people shopping in the area who were disgusted at how low-paid workers in fast food restaurants and shops were being treated. People took leaflets, stopped and listened to the chants and even joined the demonstration as we marched down the main shopping street. Local trade unionists and anti-cuts campaigners had also turned out to support the protest. When Fast Food Rights activists went into the restaurants to try and talk to staff this received an excellent response – with one worker signing up to join the Bakers’ Union (BFAWU) on the spot! The campaign is now discussing declaring Lewisham a ‘living wage zone’ and launching a huge fight to demand that all the area’s employers pay workers at least £10/hr.
Helen Pattison, Youth Fight for Jobs
Leicester Square – London
Fast Food Rights campaigners carried out a tour round of Central London’s busiest eating areas. The protest targeted fast food outlets and activists spoke to workers about joining a trade union and fighting to improve conditions. Members of the public and expressed their support and in some cases joined in with the chants as they passed by.
London Youth Fight for Jobs
As in many other cities and towns across the UK last Saturday, about 20 Youth Fight for Jobs activists, BFAWU (Bakers Food and Allied Workers Union) members, trade unionists and other campaigns, took to the streets of Cardiff for the Fast Food Rights national day of action.
Our message was loud and clear and was aimed at the fast-food companies who rake in huge profits at the cost of exploiting their workers. Chants such as “Living Wage, no matter your age!” and “McDonalds we’re at your door, Raise the wage don’t keep us poor” made it clear that we are demanding workers have the right to a unionised workplace, a living wage of £10 an hour and an end to zero-hour contracts and casual labour.
We started the day of action by splitting off into groups of three or four and leafleting some of the fast-food workplaces along Queen Street, the main shopping area in Cardiff. We reached fast-food workers directly by going straight up to them and talking to them rather than relying completely on them hearing us outside in the street. In most places we leafleted we were met by alert, scowling managers who were watching our every move and snatching leaflets out of the worker’s hands as we were leaving. In one McDonalds they threw us out, but in a Burger King we told the manager “we are just telling workers their rights and is that all right?”, and he felt forced to let his workers have the leaflets.
After this, we marched down Queen Street and protested outside five fast food shops. Outside each shop we marched around in a loop chanting and waving placards. We thought that a loop protest would inject more energy and draw more public attention. We weren’t wrong! We managed to use this protest outside two Burger Kings, a McDonalds, a Starbucks and a KFC. As well as the protestors in the loop we had a protestor responsible for leading chants on the megaphone and a number of protestors responsible for leafleting.
At the end of the protest we set up a Youth Fight for Jobs stall and conducted a small rally underneath the statue of Nye Bevan. It was a great day of action. We spoke to a lot of people and even had some people who were interested in getting more involved. Youth Fight for Jobs hopes that this fighting alliance is only the beginning and that we can build this campaign until we win. We are planning another day of action in May. Bring it on!
A fast food worker and YFJ activist
On the Saturday 29th of March we held a demonstration in Shirebrook, north Derbyshire. Over 30 people attended the Youth Fight for Jobs protest against exploitative zero-hour-contracts. The major employer in Shirebrook, Sports Direct, employs an estimated 5,000 people in the area. Of these, 4,700 are on zero hour contracts or temporary work arrangements. Mike Ashley, who owns Sports Direct (as well as the best part of Newcastle United football club), recently agreed to award himself a £65 million bonus! Despite this, he was evidently unable to run to the expense of paying his staff a proper living wage.
There are many migrant workers or under 18s who work at Sports Direct and are completely exposed to the unfair operation of Ashley. This kind of bullying is backed up by the Tory government, who want to help create an anti-trade union culture. Some workers are being paid as little as £3.50 an hour. Many have to undergo humiliating screen searches when clocking off. We hope our protest helped to show that no worker has to be alone and defenceless in the face of bullying management. Together, we can build the momentum for real change.
Nathan Sharpe, Mansfield and North Derbyshire Youth Fight for Jobs
Activists took to the streets of Lincoln on Saturday 29th March to put pressure on McDonald’s to put an end to low pay levels and the use of zero-hour contracts in the leading fast-food chain.
The protest, part of a national “fast food rights” day of action by campaign group Youth Fight for Jobs, saw dozens of local people sign up to demand better treatment for fast-food workers.
The action was supported by Lincoln & District TUC, a trade union federation that represents thousands of workers in the public- and private- sector in Lincolnshire.
Nick Parker, Secretary of Lincoln & District TUC, said “we’re proud to support the fight to put an end to low pay and the use of zero-hours contracts and commend Youth Fight for Jobs for calling this national day of action.
“Politicians like George Osborne keep telling us that the economy is in recovery and unemployment is falling. If that’s true then companies like McDonald’s, which made a UK profit of more than £243 million in 2012, can afford to share the proceeds of the recovery with their workers, and give them proper hours instead of permanent insecurity.
“We call on fast-food workers to emulate their US counterparts who have built up a magnificent movement of protests and walk-outs for $15 an hour, and join the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers union (BFAWU) and organise together to fight for your rights at work.”
This Saturday, YFJ and Fast Food Rights held the latest of a series of recent protests against zero-hour contracts. The fantastic response we received is, by now, something that I fully expect. I’ve lost count of the amount of people, of all age groups, who have approached us in solidarity, shaken our hands, and exchanged stories about these contracts with us – either from their own experiences or those of their loved ones.
The demonstration we held was outside Sports Direct – one of the most notorious employers, with around 90% of their workforce on zero-hour contracts. One worker – after approaching us to find out what we were all about – was pleased to leave with a smile on his face and one of our leaflets in his hand. More and more of us understand that we can’t just stand by while our living conditions decline further and into free-fall. It’s time to get organised to get rid of zero-hour contracts and fight for a real living wage of at least £10 an hour.
Giorgo Moulas, Liverpool Youth Fight for Jobs
In Newcastle, our second Fast Food Rights day of action had a massive impact. People from many organisations, including Youth Fight for Jobs, were joined by the Bakers’ Union (BFAWU) and the TUC. People enthusiastically took our leaflets and expressed fury at zero hour contracts. Beth Farhat, regional secretary of the TUC, got really ‘stuck in’ to the action and had brought along lots of young trade unionists, also promoting the TUC’s ‘fair pay fortnight’. We went inside the likes of Burger King and McDonalds advertising our public meeting for fast food workers – taking place at 12 Noon, on 12 April at Brunswick Church.
Paul Phillips, Newcastle Youth Fight for Jobs
McDonalds felt the presence of the Fast Food Rights campaign on Saturday, as part of the national day of action. Security and managers were posted at all entrances and we were barred from entering. Outside, however, we had a much better reception – with local people, young and old, flocking to sign our petition against zero-hour contracts and underemployment. We heard horror stories of young workers suffering with insecurity and low pay. Youth fight for jobs worked alongside local Bakers’ Union activists and reps from Greggs, giving out dozens of leaflets to a receptive public. In the end it was a great day of action in a city centre square flanked by multinational companies using zero hours contracts including McDonalds and Sports Direct.
Gareth Bromhall, Swansea Youth Fight for Jobs
In Wakefield, Leeds and Sheffield activists from YFJ joined other supporters of the Fast Food Rights campaign for a day of action.
In Wakefield, YFJ members were supported by local Socialist Party members to run a stall outside McDonalds on Kirkgate. In Sheffield, we protested outside Sports Direct and leafleted workers. In Leeds, YFJ supporters joined BFAWU members and members of Leeds TUC to leaflet outside of McDonalds.
Best of all, was that we spoke to a number of young fast food workers that were interested in joining BFAWU and getting involved with Youth Fight for Jobs. We will begin making plans for the next day of action which will hopefully double the number of activities across Yorkshire.
Iain Dalton, Yorkshire Youth Fight for Jobs
Saturday 30th March saw Coventry Youth Fight for Jobs take to the streets to protest against the bleak situation facing young people today. Many people are now stuck in jobs getting paid poverty wages, being messed about with their hours and exploited by their bosses. Youth Fight For Jobs is saying ‘enough is enough it’s time for young people to stand up and fight for our future!’
Our demands called for the scrapping of zero hour contracts, a massive program to end mass unemployment and for an increase in the minimum wage to £10 an hour! We marched through town and handed out lots of leaflets accompanied by local young people, trade unionists and members of the Socialist Party.
Mark Best of Coventry Youth Fight For Jobs said “Young people today aren’t represented by any of the main parties in parliament. We’re not apathetic, we’re angry and we’re going to do something about it.”
Mark Best, Coventry YFJ
Following on from the successful launch last month, On Saturday 29/3/14 Youth Fight For Jobs and the Bakers Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU) took part in the Fast Food Rights campaign day of action. As well as events across England and Wales, there was a static protest in Glasgow outside one of the busiest McDonalds in the city, as well as in Dundee.
In Glasgow, around a dozen activists took part with members from other unions such as Unison and Unite coming along to help to hand out over 500 leaflets and speak to shoppers about the plight of those who are on the other side of the counter. The response at the stall was one of overwhelming support for the campaign with one woman saying that her Grandson is on a zero hour contract and wants to move out from his parents house but simply cant afford to. This woman’s experience shows up the real need for this campaign, almost everyone knows someone who is affected by these contracts, and it isn’t just the worker who is affected. Here are two parents who face the choice of supporting their child, with him staying on at home, or him being faced with the real threat of homelessness if his hours don’t cover his rent.
The campaign was initiated by the BFAWU as a response to the increasing prevalance of zero-hour contracts in the Fast Food industry. Youth Fight for Jobs has taken full part in the campaign so far, because it isn’t right that young workers are forced to be at the beckoned call of employers and have little in the way of employment protection, pension rights and holidays. In addition to guaranteed work for employees, the campaign is fighting for a decent wage, in order to make work pay. Youth Fight for jobs is calling on this to be set at £10 per hour, with one rate rather than the tiered system we have at present.
The best way to fight these zero-hour Contracts and underemployment is by organising young workers within the trade union movement.
Richard Neville, Glasgow