Workers at McDonald’s went on strike on Monday for the first time in the UK, in a dispute over pay and working conditions.
About 40 workers from two restaurants in Cambridge and Crayford, south-east London, began a 24-hour strike over concerns about low wages and the widespread use by the restaurant of zero-hours contracts.
The Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU) said staff were demanding more secure hours and to be paid at least £10 per hour.
However, McDonald’s said the strike related to internal grievance procedures, not pay.
“We, at the BFAWU, fully support the historic decision by these brave McDonald’s workers to stand up and fight back against McDonald’s – a company that has let them down one too many times,” said Ian Hodson, national president of the BFAWU.
“McDonald’s has had countless opportunities to resolve grievances by offering workers a fair wage and acceptable working conditions,” he said.
McDonald’s reported revenues of $24.6 billion (£19 billion) in 2016, while Chief Executive Steve Easterbrook earned $15.4 million (£11.9 million). Although the company announced in April that all 115,000 UK staff would be offered a fixed-hours contract by the end of the year, it said 86% of workers had chosen to stay on flexible contracts.
The Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has also spoken out in support of the strike.
“Our party offers support and solidarity to the brave McDonald’s workers, who are making history today,” he said in a statement.
“They are standing up for workers’ rights by leading the first ever strike at McDonald’s in the UK. Their demands – an end to zero-hours contracts by the end of the year, union recognition and a £10 per hour minimum wage – are just, and should be met.”
Union and Labour party members also staged a protest outside the company’s headquarters in East Finchley, London, on Saturday.
“We can confirm that, following a ballot process, 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,” a spokesperson from McDonald’s said.
“McDonald’s UK and its franchises have delivered three pay rises since April 2016, this has increased the average hourly pay rate by 15%. We are proud of our people at McDonald’s, they are at the heart of all we do and we work hard to ensure that our teams are treated fairly,” the spokesperson said.