The UK Bakers’ Food and Allied Workers’ Union is joining a global day of action for fast food workers on 15 April. The action will highlight poor pay and conditions in the industry, and take place in more than 30 countries.

£10 per hour isn’t pie in the sky

On 15 April 2015, thousands of fast food workers will lead a mass movement of around 60,000 low waged workers striking across the United States to raise the issue of poor wages and the lack of trade union rights within their industry. At the same time, fast food workers and activists in 33 other countries around the world will also be taking action against low pay.

In the UK, the Bakers’ Food and Allied Workers’ Union’s Fast Food Rights campaign, which works in conjunction with the US workers’ movement, is calling for an end to the use of zero hours contracts and demanding an increase in the minimum wage to £10 per hour.

Protests have been organised across the country against employers who are wilfully exploiting their workforce in order to boost their already significant profits. Fast Food Rights actions will take place in London, Glasgow, Sheffield, Manchester, Darlington, Leeds, Birmingham, Leicester, Cardiff and Southampton. See details here.

The movement to mobilise fast food workers globally has already been highly successful. A global day of action in May last year lead to conditions in the sector become part of the political agenda. A number of US cities and states have raised the minimum wage, with Seattle and San Francisco raising the wage to the $15 per hour demanded by the strikers.This is a 100% increase on the $7.25 US federal minimum wage.

In New Zealand, the Unite union – which also participated in the action – recently signed a collective agreement with a number of restaurant brands to ban zero hours contracts. They are also lobbying successfully for a change to the law in New Zealand to ban these exploitative contracts.

As one UK fast food worker on a zero hours contract said,

“I’m joining the 15 April global day of action because zero hours contracts and low pay are no way to live. What the American fast food workers have done shows we can fight for better. It is great that the bakers’ union has taken up the fight for £10 an hour and union rights for fast food workers here, and that’s why me and my workmates have joined the union.”

Research recently carried out says that most employers have used the economic crisis to reduce pay and workers’ benefits, with profitable companies decimating the terms and conditions of their employees as a means to further boost profits.

In the UK, we are witnessing a huge rise of in work poverty, with vast swathes of the country’s labour force having to rely on benefits to top up paltry wages. The knock-on effect of this is that an increasingly high number of working people have no disposable income which in turn, has a negative effect on the economy. Indeed, research also suggests that people are often having to use more than 50 percent of their wages just to pay rent, leaving very little for food or other items.

Ian Hodson, national president of the Bakers’ Food and Allied Workers’ Union said, “It is a scandal that a number of people who are working full-time are having to suffer the indignity of visiting a food bank in order to feed their families. What a savage, damning indictment of austerity Britain and its government, which has clearly turned a blind eye to this shameful inequality and brazen exploitation.

“15 April will prove to be a massive day of action which, in addition to raising the plight of workers in the fast food industry, will also expose the government’s failure to properly deal with tax dodging companies. If that’s not enough, we will be joining together with other workers to stop the privatisation of the National Art Gallery and fight to secure affordable housing. This entire event will unite a number of issues to bring about a collective demand to end the total injustice caused by greedy employers, poverty wages and vulnerable employment contracts.”

Join the April 15 Fast Food Rights global day of action – for more details of protests: follow the following twitter hashtags: #fastfoodglobal #April15 #10Now #joinaunion #strikefastfood – download campaign materials here read more from BFAWU website


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Walton Pantland

South African trade unionist living in Glasgow. Loves whisky, wine, running and the great outdoors. Walton did an MA in Industrial Relations at Ruskin, Oxford, and is interested in how trade unions use new technology to organise.

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