Fast food workers march in London on 15 February – By Ian Hodson A campaign to to address the lack of fairness and justice for workers in the UK’s fast-food industry has been launched by The Bakers, Food and Allied Workers’ Union (BFAWU), Unite the Res …

Fast food workers march in London on 15 February

Fast food workers march in London on 15 February

– By Ian Hodson

A campaign to to address the lack of fairness and justice for workers in the UK’s fast-food industry has been launched by The Bakers, Food and Allied Workers’ Union (BFAWU), Unite the Resistance and John McDonnell MP.

Recent announcements from hugely profitable fast food companies regarding their use of unpaid labour and their abundant use of zero hours contracts seem to have gone largely unnoticed in the mainstream media. Forcing workers into poverty and having them rely on benefits to pay for basics such as rent and food seems to be quite acceptable in David Cameron’s ‘big society’ Britain.

Well it isn’t.

We are calling on all of these massive, global fast-food companies to stop this shameful exploitation and instead, ensure that their employees are provided with proper contracts of employment with wages that mean they don’t have to depend on state handouts in order to exist. It is frightful that we even have to make this demand in the 21st century.

It is equally appalling that companies are making vast profits and awarding their senior management with massive pay increases and bonuses, while those on the front line and in the engine room are paid a pittance, are unable to plan ahead and are given absolutely no long-term job security whatsoever.

The bottom line is that these companies have the ability and the finances to pay trainees and provide secure employment. They should be doing so without question.

The much debated and oft-quoted ‘cost of living crisis’ isn’t the fault of ordinary working people. It isn’t the fault of teachers and nurses, nor is it the fault of firemen. It certainly isn’t the fault of disabled and unemployed people and it definitely isn’t the fault of people working in the food industry.

The blame lies exclusively with irresponsible and greedy bankers, gambling away people’s futures in an unregulated financial sector. The irony is that whereas many of those responsible should be stood in the dock facing charges of misappropriation, they have gone unpunished and have in fact, continued to prosper following bailouts from the UK taxpayer.

To add insult to injury, our political classes have ensured that those ‘with the broadest shoulders’ have been able to protect and in many cases, add to their wealth whilst those who had no hand whatsoever in the crisis are having to deal with the impact of the recession head-on by way of pay cuts, pay freezes, redundancy and the systematic erosion of employment rights, all in the name of ‘economic necessity’.

Companies of course, many of which operate in the food industry have jumped on the bandwagon with lip-licking relish.

Trade Unions were formed to ensure that groups of workers were able to challenge unfairness and exploitation collectively; providing individuals with the strength and support of others in their time of need.

So if you work in the fast food industry; if you have a member of your family working in the fast food industry; if you are having to work on a zero hour contract; if you are unemployed and are being forced to provide free labour as part of the government’s ‘workfare’ scheme, contact the BFAWU and tell us of your experience. Let us help you change your life and the lives of those you work with.

Together, we have strength in unity.

– Ian Hodson is National President of the Bakers’, Food & Allied Workers Union


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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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