Solidarity With The McStrike

06/09/2017 12:19

I have worked at McDonalds in total for a period of five years and it was, without a doubt, one of the hardest jobs I've had in retail/customer services.

I first started working for McDonalds when I was 15, during my GCSEs, for a period of one year and a half. During this period, I worked various stations, including cooking the burgers and cleaning the restaurant or lobby as they like to call it. I have also worked at McDonalds every university holiday for four years during 2013 to 2017. Whilst I have many stories during my time there, I have also learnt a lot about the general public but know McDonalds/retail workers do deserve better.

You can't demonise a service whilst simultaneously demanding it. During my time, some members of the public would suggest that all I was good for was a career at a fast food joint and was often surprised that I was using my position at McDonalds to fund my legal studies. Quite a lot of workers at McDonalds are indeed using their position to support their future endeavours and are without a doubt, some of the hardest working people I have ever met. Never judge a book by its cover. Not to mention, a customer once harassed me over a period of three months, resulting in their subsequent arrest. McWorkers must put up with a lot for little money.

I am not surprised that McWorkers are on strike but, more surprised, that the strike didn't happen sooner. It is a well-known fact that the workers are on a zero-hour contract and it was implied to me on several occasions that if you take a sick day, this could affect your hours for the following week. No worker, regardless of whether it is McDonalds or not, should have to decide whether to go into work and probably end up making themselves more ill or take a sick day knowing this may affect their hours for the following week. Everyone deserves better than this.

For the last four years, I worked as a 'Customer Care Assistant' and sometimes, the work was often soul-destroying. I often did the closes which meant cleaning the toilets and you would be completely surprised by some of the things I would find in the toilets. Working minimal wage on tasks like this can be demeaning, demoralising and degrading. For this reason, I do believe McDonalds and retail workers in general don't get paid enough.

I recently left McDonalds in the last month and despite at the time needing the money, my mother made me see how the position was negatively affecting my health. The hours were unpredictable, some customers were volatile and I found there was limited benefits that the role was providing me. I and everybody working in retail deserve better.

Despite my experience of working at McDonalds, I do have a lot to thank the company for. It provided me with my first job, learning great skills at a young age and that's not neglecting to consider, it provided me with employment each summer during university which many companies would refuse to do.

In the 21st century, every worker should receive respect, security and due regard. Whatever happens as a result of the McStrike, I do hope it will broaden the debate around what employment rights all workers, regardless of the sector they work in, should be entitled to.

McDonalds, thank you for providing me with my first step on the career ladder and I will always be thankful for the opportunities you provided me with. Please listen to your workers.

McWorkers, you have my deepest support and respect. As ever, solidarity to your causes.