Jeremy Corbyn pledges support for Fast Food Rights at 200 strong BFAWU fringe meeting at Labour Youth Conference

Report by Steve, BFAWU fast food worker

FFRs Scarborough 3On Saturday 27 February the BFAWU Fast Food Rights campaign held a campaign rally and social as a fringe event at the Young Labour conference, where fast food worker members of the union spoke on a platform alongside Jeremy Corbyn and others.

The event was attended by around 200 people– delegates, local trade unionists and fast food workers–who came to hear about our campaign. We had pledges of support from the FBU firefighters’ union, Bill Adams the regional secretary of Yorkshire and Humber TUC, the chairman of Scarborough Labour party and Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour party.
Jeremy Corbyn standing with BFAWU fast food workers

Jeremy Corbyn standing with BFAWU fast food workers

FFRs Scarborough selfie

Corbyn pledged his support for the 14 April, a Global Day Of Action by fast food workers and unions across the world, coinciding with a major US-wide strike in the ongoing and hugely inspiring Fight for 15 campaign. Corbyn told the rally, “I fully support the campaign by the bakers’ union for a £10 an Hour minimum wage”.

FFRs Scarborough 4 FFRs Scarborough 5
It was fantastic too see many people enthused by our campaign, and understanding its importance in bringing young people into the trade union movement.
We are the most under-represented demographic of people in this country to not be protected at work and by engaging with young people in the jobs we will help to ensure they understand the importance of uniting together to tackle a wide range of issues.
Many young people in fast food employment are also students, but by engaging with them now we will ensure they seek out further trade union involvement in future workplaces.
We’ve had 5 people join the union during the event from 3 local fast food workplaces, which of course will help us now move into these workplaces and, as a collective, tackle the issues they have specific to them as well as our wider campaign of £10 & a Union.
Watch this space for more action to come as our union grows in strength.
NOTE: Next London planning meeting for the campaign’s actions around the 14 April Global Day of Action is on Tues 8 March, 5pm at Parliament, St Stephens Gate entrance, in Room W just off Westminster Hall inside parliament.

Wed 13 Jan: Fast Food Rights Protest and Forum with John McDonnell: US and UK workers join forces

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

US strike pic for 2015 leaflet

Tens of thousands of fast food workers in the US have led strikes involving low paid workers demanding $15 an hour and a union

On Wednesday 13 January, Fast Food Rights will be hosting an forum at parliament, London, with a delegation of US fast food workers and organisers who are leading the inspiring Fight For $15 strike movement.

The forum will see the US fast food workers sharing a platform with UK fast food workers, sharing experiences on a panel discussion. They will be joined on the panel by Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, who founded the Fast Food Rights campaign alongside the BFAWU bakers’ union in 2014, and other leading figures from the trade union and anti-austerity movement.

McDonald’s Whitehall 

FORUM with John McDonnell: 6.30PM

ROOM 8 Parliment Westminster

Tom Woodruff SEIU
Dawn Butler Labour MP Brent Central
John McDonnell Labour Shadow Chancellor
Kevin Rowan TUC
Owen Espley War on Want
Fast food workers from the US and the UK

We are calling on the wider trade union movement for solidarity on the day to support our fast food workers leading the charge for unionisation and £10 an hour.

Bring banners to show the trade union movement is behind them!

FFRs Forum & Protest..Download the PDF to print leaflets here

The reason for the US delegation is that as part of the global campaign by fast food workers, the US campaign is helping to organise a press event in Brussels on 12 January.


Unions and allies will be gathering in Brussels to press their case at the EU that McDonald’s must reform its practices towards workers, consumers, and society as whole. UK fast food workers and BFAWU delegates will take part in the Brussels event, but the main focus for us all will be the event in London the following day, 13 January.


Protest and Forum supported by

Unite the Resistance
Youth Fight for Jobs
Unite Hotel Workers’ Branch London


War on Want
Disabled People Against Cuts
Thompsons Soliciters
Walkers union /Slater and Gordon
Labour Representation Committee

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.