McDonald’s workers have walked off the job in the United Kingdom to demand higher pay and better working conditions.
The workers are asking the fast food chain for an hourly wage of at least £15 ($19.25) as part of a global day of action organized by the International Union of Food Workers.
The UK Trades Union Congress said the walkout was the “biggest McStrike to ever take place in Britain,” but organizers declined to estimate how many McDonald’s employees were participating.
A spokesman for McDonald’s said a small number of workers at six restaurants in London were expected to participate in the walkout, and that the company pays “well above the government minimum wage.”
The current national minimum wage in the United Kingdom is £8.21 ($10.50) an hour for those aged 25 years old and above. A UK national minimum wage was first established in 1999.
In asking for at least £15 per hour, the striking workers are taking a cue from the Fight for $15 movement in the United States, a proposal that was once considered a longshot but which has gathered significant momentum.
Fast food workers have been a major force in Fight for $15. US cities such as Seattle states including California and New York have adopted a $15 minimum wage.
The UK McDonald’s workers are also seeking 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).
Ian Hodson, national president of the BFAWU, said on Twitter that striking employees “are standing up for low paid and exploited workers in the UK.”
The UK Labour Party, which wants to ensure that workers are paid at least £10 ($12.85) per hour, backed McDonald’s workers who took their protest to the Prime Minister’s official Downing Street residence.
John McDonnell, one of the party’s top officials, joined protestors, telling the PA news agency that low pay and insecure work was “endemic in the fast food industry.”
The strike comes just days after McDonald’s former CEO, Steve Easterbrook, left the company after violating its policies by having a consensual relationship with an employee.
The McDonald’s spokesman said the company was listening to its UK employees.
“We are committed to investing in our workforce, listening to and doing what is right by them,” he said in a statement.