On 4th September 2017, McDonald’s staff from two of their restaurants went on strike and around 200 people rallied outside the Houses of Parliament to protest about working conditions and pay. This is the first time that a strike has been held by McDonald’s staff in the UK.
Grassroots political organisation, Momentum, have also released a video to coincide with the action, which includes an interview with two current McDonald’s workers, who are unnamed. The McDonald’s staff featured in the video describe incidents where they, and other colleagues, were injured at work; events which they indicate could have been avoided, had their employer taken appropriate precautions.
As a firm of solicitors, we, unfortunately, know from experience that employers don’t always do enough to protect their workers and we think these stories are deeply worrying. Judging by the response on social media, there are potentially hundreds of other staff members who have experienced similar avoidable injuries in fast food restaurants across the UK, which is completely unacceptable. We believe that major food outlets should be setting an example to others, rather than taking advantage of staff who are too frightened to speak out for fear of losing their jobs. Equally concerning are the stories about staff being given incorrect medical advice, by supposedly medically trained managers, after being injured at work, which could result in long-term, or even permanent, damage to health.
At Hampson Hughes Solicitors, we think that the strike action this month is just the tip of the iceberg. It shows that these fast food outlet employees are ready to stand up for their right to work in a safe environment, despite the tenuous position that those on zero-hours contracts might feel this action puts them in. It seems that the risk of losing their work hours if they speak out is outweighed by their need to fight for better conditions and pay. We believe it’s only a matter of time before more fast food outlet employees start to speak out about the poor conditions they work under, and we think that legal action from staff who have been injured at work because of employer negligence could quickly follow. This should be a warning to all employers in this industry; employees should not, and will not, allow themselves to be silenced from speaking out and taking action when their working conditions do not keep them safe.
Patrick Mallon, Solicitor & Head of Dept. (Accidents at work), Hampson Hughes Solicitors.