International protest for workers’ rights at McDonalds on 15 May

US ff strikes 1An international gathering of trade unions and campaigns working for workers’ rights in the fast food industry has called for a day of action on Thursday 15 May against McDonalds.

There will be a major London protest at 4pm at the McDonalds on Whitehall (just by Trafalgar Square). For full list of protests in cities and towns see below. 

US ff strikes 2The bakers’ union BFAWU and the Fast Food Rights campaign are calling for people to back the protest and for protests to be organised across Britain on the same day.

In each of the 33 countries taking part in the global day of action, activists will use the same twitter hash-tag (#FASTFOODGLOBAL) to link up their action against multinational corporation McDonalds and to demonstrate solidarity with the thousands of fast food workers across 160 cities in the US who will walk out and join the biggest US fast food strike yet in their movement that has seen strikes spread across the US since November 2012.

Hear from fast food workers worldwide about what it’s like to work for McDonald’s in their home countries, and why they’re taking action May 15…

Fast food strikes campaign in US responds to McDonalds budgetting advice to their workers …

Press release from BFAWU about the protests:

The International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers’ Associations (IUF) is an international federation of Trade Unions uniting people who work in the food service, tourism and other industries. It comprises of 396 affiliated organisations in 126 countries, representing a combined membership of 12 million workers.

On May 7th 2014, the IUF wrote to the McDonald’s Corporation calling for an end to “abusive, precarious employment practices, mobile working hours and zero hours contracts” and to comply fully with the relevant labour laws in every country where they operate. The call was also made to engage with workers’ representatives to improve wages, terms and conditions. As yet, McDonalds have refused to accept this letter.

In light of the growing momentum and strength of feeling among those working in the fast-food industry, a global day of action has been arranged for May 15th 2014.

The Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU) is pleased to be standing alongside other organisations across the globe in action to end exploitation and low pay in the fast food industry. These hugely profitable companies need to understand that they have a social responsibility to the communities they operate in. This means paying a living wage and ending the use of zero hour contracts which offer nothing other than in-work poverty.

On May 15th, we will be organising events in towns and cities up and down the country to make the general public aware of the exploitation taking place on their high streets. We will be demanding better pay, better conditions and dignity in the workplace. It’s a fair aim that has already garnered the support of countless numbers of people of all ages, celebrities, bishops and Members of Parliament.

An event has been planned in Trafalgar Square at 4pm on the day that will include Union officials and MPs as well as workers in the industry.

We are confident that the collective strength of people will turn the tide and secure fair play for all those enduring exploitation and dehumanisation in this multi billion pound industry”

Ian Hodson
National President, Bakers’, Food & Allied Workers Union

International press release from IUF

For Immediate Release: Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Contacts: Laura Brandon,, 202-641-8477

Danny Massey,, 646-200-5323

Fast-Food Workers Announce 150-City Strike as Movement Goes Global

Campaign for Higher Pay Spreads to Nearly Three-Dozen Countries on Six Continents

NEW YORK—U.S. fast-food workers said Wednesday that they will walk off their jobs in 150 cities next week, while workers from dozens of countries on six continents announced they were joining the growing movement for higher pay and rights on the job at restaurants like McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s and KFC.

As the US workers strike May 15 for $15 and the right to form a union without retaliation, workers in 33 countries on six continents will hold protests at McDonald’s, Burger King and KFC, outlets, calling for higher pay and an end to abusive employment practices, the workers said Wednesday.

“We’ve gone global!” said Ashley Cathey, a McDonald’s worker from Memphis, Tenn., who makes $7.75 after six years on the job. “It’s amazing that our fight for $15 and a union has inspired workers around the world to come together. Our campaign is growing and gaining momentum, and the highly-profitable fast-food industry needs to know we won’t stop fighting until our voices are heard.

The workers announced the strikes and protests outside a McDonald’s in Manhattan, and then delivered a letter to McDonald’s that called on the fast-food giant to raise wages and respect workers’ rights worldwide.

“On May 15, we will be taking action together around the world to demand that McDonald’s — the second largest private sector employer in the world—respect its employees’ work,” the letter read.

Earlier this week, workers and union leaders from dozens of countries met in New York City for the first-ever global meeting of fast-food workers, organized by the International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers’ Associations (IUF), a federation composed of 396 trade unions in 126 countries representing a combined 12 million workers.

“The Fight for 15 in the US has caught the attention of workers around the world in a global fast-food industry where workers have recently been mobilizing,” said Ron Oswald, general secretary of the IUF. “It has added further inspiration and led them to join together internationally in a fight for higher pay and better rights on the job. This is just the beginning of an unprecedented international fast-food worker movement—and this highly profitable global industry better take note.”

In the US, strikes are expected in cities from Oakland to Raleigh, including the first-ever walkouts in Philadelphia, Sacramento, Miami and Orlando. Around the world, workers are planning major protests in at least 33 cities, spanning six continents. Some examples are:


Morocco: Protests at McDonald’s in Casablanca and Rabat

Malawi: Protests at fast-food restaurants


Japan: 30 protests at McDonald’s in 30 different prefectures

Hong Kong: a protest inside and outside a major McDonald’s

Korea: a protest at a major McDonald’s in Seoul

India: protests at fast-food restaurants in three cities

Philippines: flash mobs inside five McDonald’s

Thailand: protests at McDonald’s and KFC restaurants in Bangkok

Australia and Oceania region

New Zealand: teach-in by workers at McDonald’s corporate headquarters in Auckland


Belgium: Lunchtime protest at a major McDonald’s in Brussels

United Kingdom: Protests at McDonald’s in up to 20 towns and cities

Germany: Protests at Burger King

Ireland: Protests at McDonald’s in Cork, Belfast and Dublin

Italy: A national strike at fast-food restaurants in Venice, Milan and Rome, to be held immediately following the US strikes

South America

Brazil: Protests at McDonald’s in five states

Argentina: Demonstration at McDonald’s in Buenos Aires

Central America/Caribbean

El Salvador: Protest at McDonald’s in San Salvador

Panama: Protest at McDonald’s in Panama City

Dominican Republic: Protest at McDonald’s in Santo Domingo

McDonald’s worker Louise Marie Rantzau, who plans to protest in Denmark, said: “In Denmark, McDonald’s pays me $21 an hour and respects our union, so I was surprised when I heard workers in the US had to fight so hard for just $15 and better rights. Fast-food companies need to treat the people who make and serve their food with the same respect everywhere and workers in Denmark are committed to supporting the workers’ cause until that happens.”

McDonald’s worker Frances Cabrera, who plans to protest in Argentina, said: “No matter where they live, fast-food workers want fair pay and rights on the job. In Argentina, we’ve won some rights, but still struggle to get by on low pay. After seeing the courageous actions of American fast-food workers demanding change, we were inspired to join the growing movement.”

Julie Sherry, an organizer with Hungry for Justice, a campaign that started earlier this year to organize fast-food workers, and which plans 20 protests across the UK on May 15 said:  “Despite the huge profits made by fast-food corporations, the average fast food worker in the UK struggles to survive on just £5 ($8.50) an hour. McDonald’s, the leading player in the UK industry, boosts its mega-profits by forcing 90 percent of its workforce to live on zero-hours contracts, meaning workers have no guaranteed hours, but can be called in to work at the drop of a hat. In the UK, we are at the beginning of a battle to take on the multinationals dominating the fast-food industry, ensure workers know their rights, and open the door to organizing fast food workers into unions, and it’s fantastic to be part of a global movement.”

A campaign that began in New York City in November 2012, with 200 fast-food workers walking off their jobs demanding $15 and the right to form a union without retaliation, has since spread to some 150 cities in every region of the country, including the South—and now around the world. The growing call by thousands of workers for $15 and a union has been credited with elevating the debate around inequality in the U.S. When Seattle reached a deal last week for a $15 minimum wage, Businessweek said the city was “adopting the rallying cry of fast-food workers.”

As it spreads, the movement is challenging fast-food companies’ outdated notion that their workers are teenagers looking for pocket change. Today’s workers are mothers and fathers struggling to raise children on wages that are too low. And they’re showing the industry that if it doesn’t raise pay, it will continue to be at the center of the national debate on what’s wrong with our economy.

A recent National Employment Law Project report only added fuel to the fire, finding that low-wage job creation was not just part of our early economic recovery but is a trend that has continued four years into the recovery. The report’s author, Michael Evangelist, told the New York Times, “Fast food is driving the bulk of the job growth at the low end…. If this is the reality — if these jobs are here to stay and are going to be making up a considerable part of the economy — the question is, how do we make them better?”

Not only is pay low, but fast-food companies are stealing from workers’ paychecks. Earlier this year, workers filed class-action suits against McDonald’s in three states, alleging widespread and systematic wage theft. A poll conducted by Hart Research found that 89 percent of fast-food workers experience wage theft. McDonald’s is being forced to act. In response to the suits, the company said it was conducting a comprehensive investigation; while in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, McDonald’s said worker protests might force it to raise wages this year. With shareholder meeting season upon us, and a recent report showing the industry has by far the largest disparity between worker and CEO pay, scrutiny on fast-food companies is bound to intensify. New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer has already said, “Excessive pay disparities pose a risk to share owner value,” and that conversations around inequality should move into the boardrooms of profitable fast-food companies.

IUF letter to McDonalds to announce global day of action: 

IUF letter to McDs — May 7 2014

International media coverage of the announcement of the global day of action:

15 May Global day of action: Fast Food Rights protests across UK

Come along to your nearest event, bring trade union and campaign banners!

(send details of local events to ):

London: 4pm at Trafalgar Square/ Whitehall McDonalds. Contact 07795 412 932

Glasgow: 4.30 – 6pm at corner of Argyle Street and Union Street McDonalds. Contact 07727 907 218

Aberdeen: 4pm McDonalds, 117 Union St

Dundee: Contact

Newcastle: 4pm at McDonalds in Metro Shopping Centre. Contact 0191 253 5629

Sheffield: 11am at Fargate McDonalds. Contact 07928 766385

Leeds: 6pm at St John’s Centre McDonalds. Contact 07900 324 479

Barnsley: 1pm at Subway. Contact 07594 857 960

Oxford:6pm at city centre McDonalds. Contact 07972 462966

Norwich: 5.30pm at McDonalds. Contact 07530 692 272

Cardiff: 11am Queen Street CF10, then demo at 12 noon at the Aneurin Bevan statue.

Birmingham: details shortly

Hull: details shortly

Wigan:Details shortly. Contact 07868 232 859

Chester: 12 noon at Chester McDonalds (by the Town Hall). Conact

Bolton: 4pm at McDonalds on Knowsley Street in town centre. Contact 07964 141 523

Leicester:4.45pm at McDonalds by the Clock Tower, High Street. Contact 07508 808 435

East Midlands:Details shortly

Bristol: 4pm at the McDonald’s at Cabot Circus. Contact 07855 139 940

Southampton:details shortly


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