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#McStrike: An Interview with McDonald’s Workers

McDonald’s is a multibillion dollar company with outlets in every city in every corner of the globe. Last year, its chief executive Steve Easterbrook took home a total pay package of an incredible $15.35m (£11.8m). For McDonald’s workers, however, the story couldn’t be more different – it’s one of low pay, exploitative contracts and workplace bullying.

After a ballot by the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU) came back in favour of strike action in July, today workers from Crayford and Cambridge McDonald’s branches went on strike in the first industrial action the company has ever faced in the UK. This morning at a protest outside the Houses of Parliament, I spoke briefly to Eric and Kayleigh – workers from the Cambridge and Crayford outlets respectively – about why they’re striking and how winning their demands for £10 an hour and better working conditions will improve their lives.

How would being paid £10 an hour affect your daily life?

Kayleigh: Right now I only get paid £7.25 an hour, but being paid £10 an hour would help me so much. At the moment I have to walk to work, which takes an hour. £10 an hour would allow me the money to get to work, and enable me to pay my bills.

Eric: Being paid £10 an hour would mean I could finally rent my own place. In Cambridge it’s very expensive to rent - right now I rent a room for £500 a month, and a studio apartment is around £1000 a month. I just want to have enough money to be able to have my own place and move on with my life. With the pay I get at the moment, I really can’t do that.

Working at McDonald’s is particularly hard for young workers working at McDonalds, especially if you’re under 18. Then you only get just over £4 an hour. I don’t understand why McDonald’s pay different wages for people of different ages doing the same job.

What are working conditions like at McDonalds?

Kayleigh: The managers treat us like crap. Instead of giving us each one job at once, they’ll give us two or three jobs to do, and it stresses us all out. We’re under pressure all the time - we're really overworked.

Eric: I’ve been working at McDonald’s for over a year, and I can see things going downhill in terms of how we’re treated.

Have you been scared about going on strike?

Eric: I am scared, yes. I’m scared I will get fired. For the past two weeks or so in Cambridge we’ve had store managers from different stores coming to our store and talking to workers. I’ve got the impression that they’ve been telling us that lots of other people could do our jobs, and that we shouldn’t strike, and so yes, I am scared.

Kayleigh: I’m not scared, actually. Today has shown me how we’ve got more power when we strike at the same time, and this has given us all energy. I think we’re going to do it – I think we’re going to win.

What would you say to workers in the service sector who aren’t currently in a union?

Eric: They should definitely get unionised. Workers can’t fight alone – we can only fight if we’re together.