22/04/2016 12:55 BST | Updated 23/04/2017 06:12 BST

Labour Is Right to Stand Up to McDonalds for the Sake of Working People and Their Unions

This week, a sub-committee of Labour's National Executive Committee (NEC) agreed to block McDonald's proposal for exhibiting at Labour Party Conference this year.

It has been reported that the decision was primarily motivated by McDonald's refusal to recognise the Bakers' Food And Allied Workers Union (BFAW) and other unions.

As a member of the NEC elected by constituency members, I tweeted in response to the decision that "It's great that @UKLabour is standing up for trade union rights at McDonald's."

The reason I back the decision is that McDonalds must end their refusal to recognise trade unions. It is the mainstream position in our movement that companies should recognise trade unions, and in this particular case McDonalds need to meet with the BFAWU union to discuss how they can improve conditions for workers.

Indeed, there is a growing campaign led by trade unions internationally in the fast food industry, and Jeremy Corbyn tweeted on the 14 April his support for the #fastfoodglobal day of action.

Campaigners have specifically expressed concern that McDonalds has been at the forefront of anti-union practices which affect the daily lives of thousands of their workers across the globe. That is why - whilst much media attention has focussed on those using the decision to make cheap political points- trade unions, who have worked hard to attempt to get companies like McDonalds to end casualisation and recognise trade unions, welcomed the decision.

A statement by Ian Hodson, President of BFAWU welcomed Monday's decision, explaining that "we have been organising workers in McDonalds who have highlighted many areas of concern regarding their employment and we urge McDonalds, the world's second largest employer, to become a good business role model instead of being the leaders in the race to the bottom."

Whilst welcoming the recent decision (following international and British campaigning on the issue) to "offer workers contracts of employment instead of their reliance on zero hour contracts", it concluded by calling "on the management to meet us to discuss the benefits of union membership; to end inequality and scrap the youth rate to pay a wage in line with their place as one of the most profitable businesses in the world."

If Monday's decision to turn down a stand at Labour conference focuses attention on trade union non-recognition at McDonalds, it's worth it. As a letter this week in The Guardian from unions and others put it "We say to McDonald's: if you can rebrand so much in your stores, from store layout to children's meals, surely you can adapt your business model, with the mega profits generated by your workforce, to recognise your workers' union and meet with the BFAWU now."

More generally, Labour members and supporters voted overwhelmingly last summer for clear, principled leadership which would stand up for working people, not stand by. Supporting our trade unions - and Labour's historic link with them - is vital to doing this.

Ken Livingstone is re-running for the Labour Party's National Executive Committee as part of the Centre-Left Grassroots Alliance ticket. Nominations are now open and each Constituency can nominate up to six candidates. You can follow his campaign on Facebook and Twitter, and find out more information about the CLGA here