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Organising fast food workers - Support 'Fast Food Rights'

Organising fast food workers - Support the 'Fast Food Rights' campaign

James Ivens, Youth Fight for Jobs London

Officials from bakers' union BFAWU recently held a 'fast food forum' with campaigners from groups including Youth Fight for Jobs.

Labour left MP John McDonnell also spoke from the platform. The meeting at Parliament decided to target exploiting fast food chains.

The move comes after successful strike action against zero-hour contracts at bread maker Hovis and organising work at snack retailer Greggs.

The meeting discussed tactics and agreed a day of action on Saturday 15th February to launch a trade union recruitment campaign.

Youth Fight for Jobs supports this and has called a further day of action on zero-hour contracts on Saturday 29th March.

A young worker at Costa Coffee related his workplace experiences. Break rooms at the café chain carry posters with uplifting messages. "Smile or be fired." A trade union would quickly wipe that smile off the boss's face.

The fast food workforce is drawn from two main sources. Many are students so the campaign aims to approach student unions.

Most others are migrant workers. Chris Ford, General Secretary of the International Workers' of Great Britain explained that his trade union had disproved the idea these workers are 'unorganisable' with several recent industrial victories.

Sick of your boss?

Helen Pattison, speaking for Youth Fight for Jobs, reported on the 'Are you Sick of Your Boss?' under-employment campaign.

Activists have had good results from entering high street shops and distributing material to staff while working.

Various speakers mentioned the Fast Food Forward campaign in the US. In particular the historic election victory of Socialist Alternative USA member, Kshama Sawant, winning more than 90,000 in Seattle, was praised.

The closing focus of discussion was the need to provide long-term support for struggle, not just publicity stunts.

Youth Fight for Jobs is planning to organise further meetings around the country with BFAWU branches and activists.

  • Wednesday 22 January: next fast food forum planning meeting at Parliament

  • Saturday 15 February: 'Fast Food Rights' day of action

  • Saturday 29 March: Youth Fight for Jobs day of action against zero-hour contracts