The American fast food chain McDonald’s is facing its first ever workers’ strike in the U.K.
Employees in two U.K. restaurants on Monday – one in Cambridge and another in southeast London – are striking against zero-hour contracts. These arrangements do not force employers to provide any minimum working hours, while obliging workers to accept any work offered.
Ian Hodson, president of the Bakers Food and Allied Workers Union, who called the strike, said on Twitter: “Cambridge standing up for low paid and exploited workers in the U.K.” Workers are also striking for a £10 ($12.95) an hour minimum wage and local grievances, a union flyer showed.
However, McDonald’s told CNBC Monday morning that the protest is solely related to its “internal grievance procedures” and not concerning pay or contracts.
“As announced in April this year, together with our franchisees, we are providing our people with the option of a guaranteed hour contract, and all restaurants will have these contracts in place by the end of 2017. McDonald’s U.K. and its franchisees have delivered three pay rises since April 2016, this has increased the average hourly pay rate by 15 percent,” McDonald’s U.K. said in a statement.
Despite the company’s guaranteed hours contracts, 86 percent of its U.K. employees have so far chosen to stay on flexible contracts. McDonald’s has 1,270 restaurants in the U.K.
The U.K.’s opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn has supported the strike. He said Monday morning on Facebook: “The Labour Party offers support and solidarity to the brave McDonald’s workers in the Bakers Food and Allied Workers Union – BFAWU, who are making history today.”
“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,” Corbyn said.
Meanwhile, Labor Day in the United States is also set to be marked by strikes. McDonald’s cooks and cashiers are set to join forces with colleagues at Burger King and other restaurants to call for a minimum wage of $15 an hour, CBS Boston reported. The protest is a nationwide movement.