Fast Food Rights ‘Hungry for Justice’ campaign was thrilled to host a delegation of fast food workers from the United States on their UK leg of a global tour (#fastfoodglobal) from Thursday 13 to Saturday 15 November.
Fast food workers from the US have set out to visit unions across the world to spread the lessons from their incredible strike movement for $15 an hour (around £10 an hour) and union rights.
Here in Britain we face the same issues of poverty pay, job insecurity through zero hours and the fight for respect and dignity at work.
Flavia Cabral—a McDonald’s worker from the Bronx in New York, Alvin Major—a Brooklyn, New York, based KFC worker made a great journey across the Atlantic alongside Nicholas Allen, an international organiser for the fast food strike campaign and Gregory Reynoso, a fast food strike organiser based in New York.
They landed into a very rainy Glasgow on Thursday 13 November.
They spoke to a lively and passionate meeting of around 70 people that was put on by Fast Food Rights and hosted by the Scottish TUC (STUC). Dave Moxham, assistant general secretary of STUC, remarked that it was one of the best meetings he’d had the privilege of chairing in all his time as a trade union official.
One young woman who works at a Glasgow food outlet spoke out in the meeting about the issues of low pay, inconsistent shifts and management ridiculing and putting down staff. She joined BFAWU bakers’ union from the floor of the meeting.
The Glasgow branch of the campaign has recently seen successes with a chunk of fast food workers signing up to the union.
But there were also supermarket workers, care workers and others who face the same issues of zero hours, low pay and lack of respect at work. They spoke of how inspired they were to hear from the struggle in the US.
The meeting made a spread in the Sunday Herald and got coverage from the BBC too.
The strikers were also able to make a flying visit to the Scotland Hazards conference, where delegates hung on to hear them as soon as they knew they were coming.
On Friday we travelled down to London from Glasgow, and the strikers were hosted at a reception at TUC congress house at an event put on by Fast Food Rights and chaired by John McDonnell MP.
Alongside activists from the executives of a number of unions, there was press there and TUC officials such as Lauren Usher and MPs such as Dawn Butler.
Ian Hodson, BFAWU national president summed up the event with a big push for the campaign, now backed by the TUC, for £10 an hour now, and encouraged people to join the lobby at parliament over zero hours contracts on 21 November.
On Saturday the US strikers spoke to 5-600 trade union activists and campaigners at the Unite the Resistance conference in London. They brought the house down, receiving a standing ovation in the opening plenary where they spoke alongside St Mungos and Care UK strikers, a New Era housing campaigner, Billy Hayes from CWU, and speakers from NUT teachers’ union, Unison and others.
The strikers also spoke in rammed workshop session at the conference on ‘The fight against zero hours and organising the unorganised’.
Their contribution explaining how they organised the strikes was hugely helpful for a number of zero hours workers who came in from the floor and discussed the difficulties in trying to unionise from scratch.
The strikers also popped in to the TUC’s Big Youth Event and spoke to the delegates there, joining Sarah Wooley from BFAWU’s executive.
The next step in the campaign here in Britain is a lobby at parliament on Friday 21 November, as a zero hours bill is debated (details below)
US fast food workers are set to see more strikes in 2014, which Fast Food Rights in Britain will be supporting.
Fast Food Rights ‘Hungry for Justice’ campaign will be building on our links with the US fast food strike movement and joining future global days of action.
Watch this space!
To get in touch with Fast Food Rights in your local area or find out more, contact 07795 412 932/ 07739 326 010 or firstname.lastname@example.org