Protests are said to be planned in dozens of towns and cities across the UK, with workers in six restaurants in London going on strike and taking their protest to Downing Street.
The strike is taking place on a global day of action for fast food employees called by the International Union of Food Workers, which will see events in countries including France, Belgium, Brazil, Chile and New Zealand.
Staff are calling for their wages to be increased to £15 an hour; for an end to youth rates; the choice of guaranteed hours of up to 40 hours a week; notice of shifts four weeks in advance; and recognition of the Bakers Food and Allied Workers’ Union (BFAWU) which represents the employees.
One McDonald's employee, Melissa Evans, who is struggling to pay her basic outgoings on her wage, wants to show her son that "poverty is not the only option".
Evans wrote in the Metro: “Steve Easterbrook was fired from his £12million-a-year job as CEO of McDonald’s for abusing his power. When I heard how much he got paid, it hurt. He’s going to end up on another multi-million salary, and he got a $675,000 pay-out. He’s not going to be down at the Jobcentre.
“But McDonald’s workers all around the world are paid poverty wages. I’m on £9.45 an hour, and it makes me feel so trapped. I am trapped in poverty. I’m trapped in the amount of time I can put towards my family. I can work 40 hours a week, and still do not have enough to pay my rent.
“My wage also means that I have to claim benefits. I’ve been working with McDonald’s for over two years now, full time – there should be no reason why I’m still on benefits.”
The first recorded strike action by McDonald’s staff in the UK took place in 2017, at locations in Cambridge and Crayford.
Responding to today’s events, a McDonald’s spokesperson said: ““We are extremely disappointed that a very small number of our people in just a handful of our restaurants are considering industrial action today. We understand only nine people are involved across six restaurants in London and the South East, which is a tiny proportion of our 130,000 workforce and 1,300 restaurants.
“The BFAWU is calling for 40 hour guaranteed contracts, which is something we already offer – but has been chosen by very few of our people. With all given the choice, around 90% of our employees have chosen to remain on flexible contracts, valuing the ability to work their shifts around their lives.”