On Aug. 4, McDonald’s experienced its first-ever worker strike in Britain. Fourteen employees at a restaurant in Cambridge and another in Crayford, in southeastern London, protested to call for better wages and more secure jobs.
According to Reuters, participants demanded a pay increase to £10 ($13) an hour, an end to “zero-hour” contracts that offer no set hours, and more trade union recognition. One striking worker in Cambridge revealed that he currently makes £7.60 an hour on a zero-hour contract.
A spokesman for McDonald’s told BBC that the strikers represented fewer than half of the 33 union members at the two locations. Fourteen smaller supporting demonstrations took place in 14 separate locations across Britain.
“A small number of our people representing less than 0.01 percent of our workforce took strike action in two of our 1,270 U.K. restaurants,” he said. “As per the terms of the ballot, the dispute is solely related to our internal grievance procedures and not concerning pay or contract.”
But Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union president Ian Hodson disagreed, saying, “For far too long, workers in fast food restaurants such as McDonald’s have had to deal with poor working conditions, drastic cuts to employee hours, and even bullying in the workplace — viewed by many as punishment for joining a union.”
McDonald’s, which employs about 85,000 people in the U.K., announced in April that workers would be given a choice of flexible or fixed contracts with minimum guaranteed hours, but says that 86 percent have chosen to stay on flexible contacts, reports BBC. McDonald’s response also referenced a series of pay rises since 2016, which they say have increased average hourly wages by an average of 15 percent.
For the 11 things you didn’t know about McDonald’s, click here.