Social media has led the charge for a huge workers’ strike. Staff from five companies have held a day of action, called ‘FFS410‘. And bringing up the rear of the protest was one John McDonnell, Labour’s shadow chancellor.
McStrike for FFS410!
As The Canary has reported, both McDonald’s and TGI Fridays workers have taken strike action before against their bosses. McDonald’s staff walked out over pay, contracts and conditions. Meanwhile TGI Fridays staff held the first ever UK strike over tips.
But since then, the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU), which represents fast food staff, organised a day of mass action on 4 October. As The Canary‘s Brian Finlay reported, JD Wetherspoons workers joined McDonald’s and TGI staff, along with workers from Uber Eats and Deliveroo.
In hospitality, financial insecurity is rife for workers due to low pay and… zero-hours contracts. Trade union membership is also historically low among workers… However, the BFAWU feels campaigns like this can turn membership levels around.
So, the FFS410 action went ahead. And the support it got on social media was massive.
Social media changing the game
Loads of Labour MPs and trade union leaders showed their support for FFS410:
Solidarity with hospitality workers at TGI Fridays, Wetherspoons and McDonalds plus Uber eats and Deliveroo joining together today today to strike for fair pay and fair treatment at work #FFS410 https://t.co/Mrv2l11gVC
— Rebecca Long-Bailey (@RLong_Bailey) October 4, 2018
— Jonathan Ashworth (@JonAshworth) October 4, 2018
Solidarity with fast food workers tomorrow, striking for fair pay. As a young shop steward on the docks I fought with others for the rate for the job. These hospitality workers remind me of then and why unions are as relevant as ever in giving the faith to fight injustice #FFS410 https://t.co/a6KaIzXJ3E
— Len McCluskey (@LenMcCluskey) October 3, 2018
Green Party MP Caroline Lucas also came out in support (again):
Solidarity with all those taking part in #McStrike today. The companies you work for are utterly dependent on you to generate their profits. It's about time they recognised that.
Looking forward to meeting Wetherspoons workers on strike in Brighton later. https://t.co/pzRn5Y53Z8
— Caroline Lucas (@CarolineLucas) October 4, 2018
And one of the other hashtags people were using, #McStrike, was trending along with #FFS410:
There were great scenes at the sites of FFS410 action:
— The McStrike! (@FastfoodRights) October 3, 2018
— The McStrike! (@FastfoodRights) October 4, 2018
— Unite the Resistance (@resistunite) October 4, 2018
And Twitter even turned FFS410 into a ‘Moment’:
— Twitter Moments UK & Ireland (@UKMoments) October 4, 2018
McDonnell: not messing
And as writer Liam Young noted, McDonnell was not messing around with his support for FFS410:
If you want to reflect on how far we’ve come in three years, John McDonnell, the People’s Chancellor, says a memo has been sent to all Labour MPs today informing them that if there is a picket in a constituency it is the MPs responsibility to join it ?? #FFS410 #mcstrike
— Liam Young (@liamyoung) October 4, 2018
McDonnell said at the demo at Leicester Square:
The Labour Party is 100% behind these strikes, the demonstrations… to achieve just a decent pay rise and to achieve decent conditions at work… We’ve made it clear. When we go into government: £10 an hour, real living wage, introduced in the first Queen’s speech…
— TJ ??️?? (@TJTypes) October 4, 2018
— TJ ??️?? (@TJTypes) October 4, 2018
The reality of fast-food work
But it’s the voices of the workers which make the strongest point for FFS410. McDonald’s worker Lauren McCourt told the Trades Union Congress (TUC):
Poverty wasn’t just a word to me – I was living it.
I knew that if the manager decided to take shifts away from me I would end up homeless. And all the workers at my store were struggling just the same.
Everyone I worked with was barely making ends meet. People were working 12-hour shifts every day just to make their rent – and 7 days a week because the free meal we got on our break was the only way we could feed ourselves.
So when one worker bravely walked out of her store to mark the start of the strike, I decided to take part in the action too.
It is this kind of solidarity that makes real change at work happen. It only takes one worker to get thousands on board. So McDonald’s, TGI, Wetherspoons, Uber Eats and Deliveroo: it’s your move now.
– We all deserve fair pay and good working hours. Be part of that change, join a union.
– Join The Canary, so we can keep holding the powerful to account.
We need your help ...
The coronavirus pandemic is changing our world, fast. And we will do all we can to keep bringing you news and analysis throughout. But we are worried about maintaining enough income to pay our staff and minimal overheads.
Now, more than ever, we need a vibrant, independent media that holds the government to account and calls it out when it puts vested economic interests above human lives. We need a media that shows solidarity with the people most affected by the crisis – and one that can help to build a world based on collaboration and compassion.
We have been fighting against an establishment that is trying to shut us down. And like most independent media, we don’t have the deep pockets of investors to call on to bail us out.
Can you help by chipping in a few pounds each month?