This is a guest post from the Bakers’, Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU). They are organising actions around the UK on Wednesday against low wages and zero hour contracts in the fast food industry. BFAWU was one of the first unions to sign up to the Boycott Workfare pledge, after workers at a 2 Sisters Food Group factory in Nottingham were sacked and replaced with people on workfare back in 2012. Unlike some others, BFAWU has consistently campaigned against workfare as well as the precarious work, poor conditions, and low pay that workfare supports. See here for more details of BFAWU actions on Wednesday.
On 15 April 2015, thousands of fast food workers will lead a mass movement of around 60,000 low waged workers striking across the United States to raise the issue of poor wages and the lack of trade union rights within their industry. At the same time, fast food workers and activists in 33 other countries around the world will also be taking action against low pay. Here in the UK, the Bakers’ Food and Allied Workers’ Union’s Fast Food Rights campaign, which works in conjunction with the US workers’ movement, is calling for an end to the use of zero hours contracts and demanding an increase in the minimum wage to £10 per hour.
Protests have been organised across the country against employers who are wilfully exploiting their workforce in order to boost their already significant profits. Fast Food Rights actions will take place in London, Glasgow, Sheffield, Manchester, Darlington, Leeds, Birmingham, Leicester, Cardiff and Southampton (For details: fastfoodrights.
One fast food worker on a zero hours contract said,
“I’m joining the 15 April global day of action because zero hours contracts and low pay are no way to live. What the American fast food workers have done shows we can fight for better. It is great that the bakers’ union has taken up the fight for £10 an hour and union rights for fast food workers here, and that’s why me and my workmates have joined the union.”
Research recently carried out says that most employers have used the economic crisis to reduce pay and workers’ benefits, with profitable companies decimating the terms and conditions of their employees as a means to further boost profits.
In the UK, we are witnessing a huge rise of in work poverty, with vast swathes of the country’s labour force having to rely on benefits to top up paltry wages. The knock-on effect of this is that an increasingly high number of working people have no disposable income which in turn, has a negative effect on the economy. Indeed, research also suggests that people are often having to use more than 50 percent of their wages just to pay rent, leaving very little for food or other items.
Ian Hodson, national president of the Bakers’ Food and Allied Workers’ Union said, “It is a scandal that a number of people who are working full-time are having to suffer the indignity of visiting a food bank in order to feed their families. What a savage, damning indictment of austerity Britain and its government, which has clearly turned a blind eye to this shameful inequality and brazen exploitation.
“15 April will prove to be a massive day of action which, in addition to raising the plight of workers in the fast food industry, will also expose the government’s failure to properly deal with tax dodging companies. If that’s not enough, we will be joining together with other workers to stop the privatisation of the National Art Gallery and fight to secure affordable housing. This entire event will unite a number of issues to bring about a collective demand to end the total injustice caused by greedy employers, poverty wages and vulnerable employment contracts.”