TO MARK INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY, the global corporation McDonald’s flipped its logo “in honour of the extraordinary accomplishments of women everywhere.” I think women everywhere would rather they did something which was a bit more than a media stunt to support women, by:
- ensuring workers have decent contracts with security instead of zero-hours;
- dealing with the issues of sexual harassment that occur;
- and paying workers a wage they can live on without the need for state support.
Perhaps they may be interested in the views of these three women who work for them.
Stephanie: “I’ve got a five-year-old kid. This whole zero-hour contract thing made me homeless. I fell behind in rent because my hours were not stable enough. Even with me taking on extra shifts at times it still wouldn’t make it up, and it's like you could get £500 pounds this week and £40 the next. McDonald's was playing with my hours, That's what caused me to lose my home. Your workers’ lives are on the line here and it's like you don't care. I've got a son and he depends on me. As parents we always find a way but I’m a single mum and it's hard, very hard.”
Sheila: “I’ve been at McDonald’s for 18 years. Over this time there hasn’t been much improvement. With zero-hours contracts, you’re not given any notice, you just get 10 or 15 fewer hours. My son is 15 and I struggle on the wage I'm on. Food-wise, I just go to Aldi, get a bit of cheap bread, a bit of cheap cheese - and make do. We reduce on a lot of things like going out, and we don’t put the TV on as early as we would like because it's all electric bills. My son is probably losing some of his education. I think they do some online work for homework on the computer now, but that all has to go down a bit because of the cost. I thought I really need a union, I really need somebody to help me. So I joined the Bakers’ Union.”
Lauren: “If I were to lose my hours, homelessness is a really serious possibility, and I know it is for other people as well. I got involved in the union about a year ago, six months into working at the store. It’s definitely changed things for me and I think a lot of other people as well. It makes me very hopeful for the future that we can change things because I don’t think you can do that alone.”
McDonald's said it would introduce guaranteed hours. Our members are saying that they have not been adequately told what this means - they are only guaranteed hours, not fixed hours. They were frightened off when it was suggested their hours would only be those set out in the contract - which meant no opportunity to increase their hours and a possible loss of income. McDonald’s have increased wages recently. But this is because workers took action and exposed the poverty pay McDonald’s pays. And not all those who work for the giant global corporation will benefit from the pay increase.
Will there be more strikes? Workers are angry their concerns are not being listened to, and we will obviously support any members who wish to take action.
is National President of the Bakers' Food & Allied Workers Union