Anyone who has ever been employed on a zero-hour contract will understand that it is not a very reliable source of income. It is also not a coincidence that people employed on these contracts are often paid the national minimum wage. Those relying on such jobs find it difficult to support a single individual, let alone a family.
One of the biggest users of zero-hour contracts is the profiteering fast-food mogul, McDonalds, where young people work for as little as £4.25 per hour. And unfortunately, closer to home, it seems Leicester City Football Club have yet to pass their newfound successes on to their staff, many of whom are also employed on McContracts.
This is why Leicester Socialist Students, in conjunction with Youth Fight for Jobs and the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU), helped to organise a demonstration last Thursday (April 14) outside of the Highcross McDonalds in Leicester city centre.
The protest was part of an International Day of Action for fast food workers, which took place in 40 countries across the globe, with the aim of highlighting poor working conditions, particularly at McDonalds. Nationally, Youth Fight for Jobs and BFAWU were demanding a £10 an hour living wage without age exceptions – supported by the Trades Union Congress (TUC) – and an end to exploitative zero hour contracts.
Campaigners dressed as Ronald McDonald, Filbert Fox (Leicester City’s mascot), and a Minion petitioned the public in support of the fast food workers, and the event was broadcast on the BBC East Midlands Six O’ Clock News and the News at Ten.
An interview with George Atwall, the regional organiser for BFAWU, highlighted clearly the hardships suffered by those working on zero hour contracts:
I think it’s unfair that workers are not getting proper hours at work; where they have to wait at home on the back of a phone so they can be called into work. They’ll probably get two hours one day, six hours the other day. They’re not guaranteed hours.
Since the demonstration McDonald’s have now stated that they will be offering staff the option of moving to contracts guaranteeing a minimum of four, sixteen, or thirty hours a week. This victory provides an intimation of what can be achieved when workers and students unite together.
By Leicester Socialist Students