As US fast food workers go on strike, UK protests take place demanding £10 an hour

On Tuesday 10 November, tens of thousands of US fast food workers will be striking as the next major mobilisation in the inspiring fight for $15 an hour and a union.


Here in the UK, a number of protests have been called by Fast Food Rights and by the GMB union, which Fast Food Rights is supporting. Fast Food Rights will also be focussing on joining protests taking place in opposition to the Trade Union Bill, which goes through its third reading at parliament on Tuesday. The fight to unionise new areas such as fast food, where we are fighting low pay and for workers’ rights, is part of the same fight to defend union rights for everyone.

Tuesday 10 November: JOIN THE PROTESTS!


GMB Protest demanding £10 an hour: Birmingham New Street station

9am LEEDS:

GMB Protest demanding £10 an hour:  White Rose Shopping Centre

10am – 1pm: MANCHESTER: 

GMB Protest demanding £10 an hour: Manchester Piccidilly Gardens

11.30am: LONDON:

GMB Protest demanding £10 an hour: White City Westfield, Millies Cookies & Burger King

12 – 1pm: BOLTON:

GMB Protest demanding £10 an hour: Bolton M&S

12 noon: BRADFORD:

Fast Food Rights protest demanding £10 and hour and union rights: Kirkgate McDonald’s

12 noon: SALFORD:

Fast Food Rights protest demanding £10 an hour & union rights: McDonald’s Cross Lane


Fargate M&S

1pm: LONDON:

GMB Protest demanding £10 an hour: McDonalds 518/522 Brixton Road, SW9 8EN

4.30pm: LEEDS:

Fast Food Rights Protest demanding £10 an hour and union rights: Briggate McDonald’s




We’re Hungry for Justice: Fast Food Rights National Organising Day: 16 SEP

See Facebook event page here  and for background info on the global fast food rights movement, see #FastFoodGlobal

BFAWU fast food worker members led the charge for £10 an hour and union rights on 15 April global day of action

BFAWU fast food worker members led the charge for £10 an hour and union rights on 15 April global day of action

On 16 September the Bakers union are holding a National Organising Day hosted by the Trade Union Congress.

The organising day is a space for fast food workers, union activists and community campaigners to find out more about the Fast Food Rights campaign.

It will be about drawing in activists from across the movement to discuss practical ways to help win better pay, job security and respect at work in fast food sector.

If you are a fast food worker, or are working in similar conditions–on low pay, without union rights, perhaps on a zero hours contract or with no contract at all–come along and join other workers in your position to learn more about how joining the union can tranform your life at work for the better.

It doesn’t matter if you have never been involved in anything like this before, or if you are not yet a member of a union–come along to find out more.

It is also about pulling together all those, whether based in fast food or not, who want to challenge poverty pay and zero hours contracts in Britain and see new areas organised by our unions.

When you work in fast food, you’re told that you have no control over your shifts, that you have to accept living on poverty pay, and that you can’t do anything about it.

Many feel they have no choice, that they have to put up with these conditions. But it’s not true.

On 15 April, Fast Food Rights had protests across Britain, for workers’ rights and fair pay. This was part of a global day of action involving fast food workers in 33 countries.

Fast food workers in America have now won a pay increase to $15 an hour and the right to join a union. Some of them will be at the National Organising Day telling their inspiring story of how they won change in the seemingly most unlikely circumstances.

The Fast food rights campaign here in Britain is fighting to do the same.

We are demanding these mega-profit companies pay a wage that workers can live on, provide the security of proper contracts with guaranteed hours and respect workers’ right to join a union.


10am – 6pm
@ the TUC, Great Russell Street,
London, WC1B 3LS,
(near Tottenham Court Road station)



Transport is being organised from areas around the country, contact 07795 412 932 to get in touch with your local organiser. Transport costs can be covered as long as we know numbers coming.


10:00 – 10:30: Arrival, meet & greet, tea & coffee

10:30 – 11:15: Welcome & introduction to the Fast Food Rights campaign:
Ian Hodson, Bakers’ union president & John McDonnell MP

11:15 – 12:15: Lessons from abroad: What’s been achieved in America & the success of Fight for $15:
American Fast Food workers who have led the strike movement+ Q&A
Plus video-link: Seattle City Councilmember & ‘$15 Now’ activist, Kshama Sawant

12:15 – 12:45: Where now for the UK campaign?
Fast food workers who have built the union in Glasgow, Julie Sherry, Fast Food Rights national coordinator & supporting campaigns + Q&A

12:45- 1:45–LUNCH (free)

1:45– 2:45: Lessons from other successful organising campaigns
Including strikers from Hovis Wigan, National Gallery strikers, Unite Hotel Workers branch activists & others

2:45–4:00 WORKSHOP: Organising in unorganised workplaces Carl Roper

4:00-5:00: Discussion & debrief. Write up next steps


Report by first time delegate’s experience of BFAWU’s annual conference

A report by a zero hours, minimum waged fast food worker of their experience joining the Bakers’ union, recruiting and organising:

by Lorna,Branch 500, Glasgow

US fast food workers at a meeting hosted by the STUC on the Fast Food Rights campaign US strikers' tour in November

US fast food workers at a meeting hosted by the STUC on the Fast Food Rights campaign US strikers’ tour in November


In November 2014, fast food workers from the US came to Glasgow to share the story of their struggle. After a fantastic meeting with powerful and inspiring speeches from the fast food workers, along with representatives of Unite the Resistance and the Bakers Union, the need to join the BFAWU seemed imperative.

I was surprised how much my experience as a minimum wage, zero hours contracted worker was so similar to the experience of the fast food workers on low pay, working unreasonable hours in the US. It was clear that joining the union was part of joining this global fightback.

I work in a fast food outlet in Glasgow. My zero hours contract means there is a complete lack of consistency with my work. The recent introduction of two hour shifts means that after tax and travel expenses, I can earn less than £9 for a day’s wage. The minimum wage is impossible to live on, and I don’t have children or a mortgage to pay.

Sexism is another issue we face in our workplace. Backhanded sexist comments about our personal lives have become the daily norm. Racist and homophobic attitudes are often expressed by the boss after customers leave. Why should anyone have to endure this in their workplace? And why should bosses with these prejudices not be pulled up for their bigotry and face consequences? I realised I couldn’t take on the boss on my own. We are strongest together when we are united and taking action together.  Joining a trade union was the best way of fighting back. And more than that, it was in the best interests of my workmates to arm themselves in this way and join too.

BAFWU fast food workers in Glasgow lead the march to 'Greedy bosses' corner' on 15 April global day of action

BAFWU fast food workers in Glasgow lead the march to ‘Greedy bosses’ corner’ on 15 April global day of action

Toni is one of my workmates who joined and became active in BFAWU. We have been involved in the fast food rights campaign which has mushroomed in the UK.

We have been taking part in meetings and protests, including the occupation of the KFC on ‘greedy bosses corner’ in the centre of Glasgow and have been working hard to recruit as many fast food workers as possible.

We attended our first Bakers Union conference as delegates this year. The experience was overwhelming. The week was overflowing with ideas, debates and discussions on the best way forward. We didn’t hesitate to take part.


It was, however, clear that there was a disparity in age, with very few young delegates. This stems from a much wider problem in society; young people feel so disillusioned and battered down with the current economic system that the benefits of joining a union are muddied and unclear.

They are targeted by the Tories and are one of the groups worst affected by their vicious austerity attacks. Now more than ever we need to work closely together to strengthen our resistance to the Tories but also reach out to as many young people as possible and get them involved. For most young people the idea of joining a trade union might not have even crossed their mind. Our experience at conference, however, has left us in no doubt that it is absolutely essential for young workers join a union. It is in their best interest to be part of a collective of workers who are committed to fighting their corner.


Lorna speaking at the rostrem

Lorna speaking at the rostrem

It’s no surprise then that we were met with the warmest welcome at this year’s conference.

Toni and I had prepared contributions and in spite of our nerves, stood behind the rostrum and spoke to a hall full of delegates on issues that included our experience as fast food workers, the future of the Labour Party and sexism in the workplace.

Toni at rOSTREMThe delegates wanted to hear what we had to say and it really felt that our contributions were valued and well received. It injected a perspective that was less common at conference and the phrase ‘breath of fresh air’ was part and parcel of our everyday conferencing experience.

This may have had something to do with my expectations of the leadership body. For some reason (I’m not sure why) I thought the National Executive would be made up of dusty old-timers, out of touch with the workers’ experiences. How wrong I was! Actually, it was made up of people who have battled tirelessly in many workers struggles.

It was made up of men and women of different ages and ethnicities. More than that, this leadership seemed extremely accountable and held in check by the members. Perhaps the greatest example of this involves our General Secretary, Ronnie Draper. Standing orders decided that if delegates left the hall to take a personal phone call they should be fined £10. You can imagine the shock, and glee, it must be said, on the delegate’s faces when Ronnie Draper did exactly that. President Ian Hodson, leapt up from his chair with excitement and called for justice to be served! Sure enough, Ronnie Draper made his way to pay his fine without delay or hesitation, to great applause from the approving members. The point here is that there wasn’t an undemocratic structure with one rule for the members and another for the leadership. This particular example was completely humanizing and cut through the top down structure that can result in corrupt, high levels of bureaucracy and was a reminder to delegates that the collective is the engine of the union.

The famous karaoke night was also symbolized this idea. Everyone had a go. Even Toni and I! The entire evening was a reminder of what is so brilliant about our class; we are full of confidence and spirit. Singing really is one of the best ways to express yourself politically as well. Toni and I mustered the courage to address the conference in this way on the last day. We sang a song from the fast food picket lines in North Carolina with adapted lyrics like “life ain’t no fun, living on £6.51”. Compare this to our first contributions where we were shaking with nerves. The Bakers Union conference really was a huge confidence builder. The members were on our side, encouraging us to speak and take part at every turn.

Whenever we did speak, it was clear we were doing so in a completely democratic and open environment. The whole conference operated in this way. Any delegate from the floor could go up and speak on any issue for as long as they wanted. Even controversial issues like affiliation to the Labour Party were not brushed under the carpet but rather, the arguments were encouraged to be hashed out. I joined the union because of the issues I face in my workplace. However, I also joined because of the politics and ideas they firmly maintain. I am proud to be a member of a union that takes an uncompromising position on UKIP and the racist immigration policies meted out by the Tory government. I am proud to be a member of a union that calls for the closure of dehumanizing detention centres like Dungavel in Scotland. I am proud to be a member of a union that bans the right wing, sexist Sun newspaper, values every member they have and is committed to the fightback against the austerity.

Fast Food Rights protest in London shortly after the campaign was launched in 2014

Fast Food Rights protest in London shortly after the campaign was launched in 2014

One of the greatest achievements of the BFAWU has been the work they have done around The Fast Food Rights Campaign.

We call for £10 an hour now, an end to zero hours contracts and union rights and recognition, all of which are demands that resonate with the struggle in America.

As a result the campaign has been used as a launch pad to recruit young workers, like Toni and myself.

The Bakers Union is one of the smaller unions, but the role it has played in this global movement has been hugely important.


Over 80 turned out for a lively discussion at the Unite the Resistance fringe meeting at BFAWU conference

Over 80 turned out for a lively discussion at the Unite the Resistance fringe meeting at BFAWU conference

After a long day of debates and discussions it was good to participate in the fringe meeting for Unite the Resistance, which was taken so seriously by the delegates. It was a packed meeting with over 80 delegates attending, all participating in a lengthy discussion on the way forward for the trade union movement.

One of the strategies being called for was coordinated national strike action. It was clear the BFAWU is committed to work in solidarity with other trade unionists, students, young people, the unemployed, pensioners and anti-cuts campaigners in order broaden the fightback against austerity. Unite the Resistance is one vehicle through which we can do this. Delegates at the meeting expressed the union’s overall commitment to collective struggle in order to build the widest possible support for national strike action. A fantastic symbol of unity and solidarity.

Lorna and Toni doing a presentation at the STUC youth conference on 13 June

Lorna and Toni doing a presentation at the STUC youth conference on 13 June

Later that same week, Toni and I, filled with new found confidence, attended the annual STUC Youth Conference. We prepared and delivered a presentation on zero hours contracts and how to mobilize young workers into challenging unacceptable wages and conditions.

As Toni has experience in film making and I am a musician, we have started moving on a project that will reach a wider layer of young workers.

We plan to make a short film about workers on zero hours contracts with low pay, working in difficult, unsafe and hostile environments.

The aim of the film will be to expose these conditions and stress the importance of young people joining the union. Interviews with fast food workers and footage of the global campaign will be central to communicating the idea that workers are not alone.

They don’t need to feel isolated.

We also have plans to approach the STUC’s ‘Unions into Schools’ in Scotland in order for us to provide information and advice to school students, one of the most common groups to work in fast food outlets. Any union or organization like Unite the Resistance can access the film which is targeted at fast food workers. Similarly, we plan to organize a Fast Food Rights Campaign gig with the aim of encouraging fast food workers to enjoy live music, watch the short film, but most importantly, the gig could symbolize what is possible with collective activity.

These projects will be made by young people for young people and the objective is to pull in a whole layer of young workers to join the union. After conference, Toni and I felt armed with the understanding of how to contribute to building the union, but also, the broader fightback. I’d like to pay special thanks to Mark McHugh for his invaluable guidance, patience and support around our activity in the union. Our experience at conference sharpened our understanding of what it means to be part of a united collective. A collective that is solid in its uncompromising opposition to austerity, racism, sexism, homophobia and the need for unity with workers everywhere.



Fast Food Rights protests hit UK as 90,000 strike across the US on global day of action, 15 April

Glasgow FFRs

BFAWU fast food workers leading the march to “Greedy bosses corner” in Glasgow

On Wednesday 15 April, protests called by the Bakers’ Food and Allied Workers’ Union (BFAWU) led Fast Food Rights campaign demanding £10 an hour and union rights, as well as an end to all zero hours contracts and abolition of the youth rate, took place across Britain as part of a global day of action in solidarity with the growing movement in the US, led by fast food worker strikes, for $15 an hour and a union.

Protest outside Marble Arch McDonaldś in London: the Unite Hotel Workers' branch joined the BFAWU led Fast Food Rights campaign day of action

Protest outside Marble Arch McDonaldś in London: the Unite Hotel Workers’ branch joined the BFAWU led Fast Food Rights campaign day of action

Major protests took place across London and Glasgow throughout the day, occupying and shutting down fast food outlets in the city centres, at Marble Arch in London in the morning and at “Greedy bosses corner” on Argyle street in Glasgow in the evening.

In Glasgow the campaign recruited another fast food worker to the BFAWU union. Workers have been contacting the campaign from around the country as a result of the day of action to find out more and join the union.

Fast Food Rights activists will be going back round fast food workplaces more quietly on 22 April to talk to workers about joining the union.

If you would like to get involved in this – contact us at


solidarity protests from the campuses link up with striking fast food workers and other low waged workers, and the Black Lives Matter movement, fighting for economic and social justice

solidarity protests from the campuses link up with striking fast food workers and other low waged workers, and the Black Lives Matter movement, fighting for economic and social justice

The global day of action saw strikes by fast food workers in Italy, France and New Zealand too, while portests by fast food workers and their unions hit over 40 countries worldwide.

Here in Britain, protests hit London, Glasgow, Manchester, Sheffield, Leeds, Leicester, Birmingham, Southampton, Cardiff, Swansea Peterborough, Ipswich and others.

Some 90,000 low waged workers across the US struck in the biggest action yet, as home care workers, shop workers, airport workers and more joined thousands of striking fast food workers. Strikers merged on the streets with solidarity protests on the campuses, and the Black Lives Matter movement against institutionalised racism in America. Some 90 percent of fast food workers in the US are black workers, so these are the same struggles, for higher wages and respect at work, and against police racism in their communities.

Fast Food Rights in Southampton

Fast Food Rights in Southampton

For a flavour of the scale of the global day of action, browse the inspiring pictures from across Britain and across the world at #FastFoodGlobal on Twitter.

Fast food workers in Tokyo

Fast food workers in Tokyo


15 April Fast Food Rights Global Day of Action: What’s happening and where

On 15 April, Fast Food Rights is organising protests at McDonald’s in cities and towns across Britain, as part of a global day of action in solidarity with the fast food workers’ strike movement in the US.


PlacardFFRs 15 April colour placard £10 now

Placard: FFRs 15 April colour placard No Zero Hours

Poster: I support #April15 poster

Leaflet: FFRs 15 April on the day doublesided A5 leaflet.normal

I support #April15 poster







London: (contact: 07795 412 932)

10.30am, McDonald’s, Marble Arch (called by Unite, backed by BFAWU/ Fast Food Rights)

5.30 – 6.30pm, McDonald’s on Whitehall


Glasgow: (contact 07727 907 218)

12noon McDonald’s, 1200 Maryhill Rd  G20 9BA

1:30pm McDonald’s, 489 Pollokshaws Rd  G41 2PF

2:30pm McDonald’s, 101-105 Sauchiehall St,  G2 3DD  then march to…

McDonald’s, 209-215 Argyle St (corner of Union St)  G2 8DL  from 4pm (ish) – 6pm


Sheffield: (contact 07753 324 055)

On 15 April for the day of action

11.30am, Fargate McDonald’s

Then on Saturday 18 April:

12 noon, Fargate McDonald’s followed by rally at

2pm in the united reform Methodist church on Norfolk street with BFAWU general secretary Ronnie Draper


Manchester: (contact 07557 281 471)

12 noon, McDonald’s HQ in Salford and the McDonald’s next to it


Leeds: (contact 07739 326017)

4.30pm, Lower Briggate McDonald’s


North East: (contact 07739 326 014)

12–2pm, McDonald’s Queen St Arcade, Northgate, Darlington

4 – 6pm, Teeside – details tbc


Southampton: (contact 07739 326 002)

11.30am – 2pm, Two simultaneous actions:

McDonald’s at West Quay

McDonald’s in Shirley


Leicester: (contact 07739 326009)

2 – 6pm, McDonald’s at the Clock Tower, Church Gate


Birmingham: (contact 07726 902807)

Bullring McDonald’s, meeting point at the St Martins Square church



5pm at the Queen St McDonald’s



5.30pm (to about 7pm) by the McDonald’s, Castle Square



6pm at the McDonald’s in the town centre



6pm outside the Peterborough city centre McDonald’s



details tbc



details tbc


Huddersfield (contact 07739 326017)

details tbc


Fast Food Rights events taking place NOT on 15 April, but in the same week as part of the global movement: 

Sheffield: (contact 07739 326017)

12 noon, Fargate McDonald’s followed by rally at

2pm in the united reform Methodist church on Norfolk street with BFAWU general secretary Ronnie Draper


Grimsby (contact 07739 326017)

On 22 April details tbc


Barnsley: (contact 07739 326017)

23 April: 12 noon, Assemble at the Costa in Town Centre