From fast food to no food
Tuesday 5 September 2017
DR JONATHAN Lord, Lecturer in employment law at the University of Salford Business School, comments on the first ever strike in a McDonalds restaurant in the UK.
He said: “It is no coincidence that the 4th September is Labor day in the US and that for the first time McDonalds employees in the UK will take industrial action in a dispute over pay and contracted hours.
“The strike has been coordinated on Labor Day in solidarity with other workers who are in dispute against fast food giants around the world. The publicity garnered from the strike, on an important date in the US companies calendar, will signify that McDonalds can no longer guarantee peaceful industrial relations with their workers who are determined to improve conditions not only in the two stores on strike but for the rest of their allies in the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU).
“McDonalds themselves do not seem to be concerned about the industrial action, highlighting that only a small number of their employees who represent less than 0.01% of the workforce are intending to strike in two of their 1,270 UK restaurants.
“This is dangerous rhetoric though, as we have seen from previous industrial disputes in sectors where they would not normally occur as they can manifest into potential problems for organisations if they are not addressed swiftly and satisfactorily. Industrial action has severely declined over the last 100 years with the Office for National Statistics (ONS) highlighting that only 322,000 working days were lost to strikes in 2016 compared to 29 million in 1979.
“The number of strike ballots in 2006 totalled 1,341, whereas in 2016 this dropped to a low of 488. Old as well as new anti-union laws have made it more complicated and legally difficult to take industrial action, which McDonalds will be fully aware of and probably influenced their apparent lack of concern.
“The Big McConcern will be the damage to their brand but more importantly employee engagement with the company and ultimately the customers. Workers are the greatest assets of any company and if they are not remunerated properly and have uncertain prospects of employment this will eventually affect service and as well all know McDonalds are all about service.”