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McDonald's staff walk out in first UK strike action

Workers on strike outside the Crayford branch of McDonald's Credit: ITV News

McDonald's staff have staged a walk out in the fast food chain's first ever strike action in the UK.

Workers in Cambridge and Crayford, south east London, voted overwhelmingly in favour of industrial action, over concerns about working conditions and the use of zero-hour contracts.

The Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU) said staff were demanding a wage of at least £10 an hour and more secure working hours.

One worker from the Crayford branch, Shen Batmaz, said staff are treated like they are disposable.

She added: "McDonald's raise their prices every six months. They know that inflation is happening. They just don't want to help us with it. And so now, we're saying 'no'. It's not going to happen anymore."

McDonald's said those taking action represented 0.01% of its workforce, adding the dispute was related to its internal grievance procedures.

But the union said the walkout was mainly over pay and zero hours contracts.

Ian Hodson, BFAWU national president, said: "McDonald's has had countless opportunities to resolve grievances by offering workers a fair wage and acceptable working conditions. This is a call for change.

"For far too long, workers in fast food restaurants such as McDonald's have had to deal with poor working conditions, drastic cuts to employee hours, and even bullying in the workplace - viewed by many as a punishment for joining a union."

The fast food chain claims the action is over an internal dispute not hours and pay. Credit: PA

McDonald's employs around 85,000 staff in the UK and one million worldwide.

In April it announced workers would be offered a choice of flexible or fixed contracts with minimum guaranteed hours, saying 86% have chosen to stay on flexible contracts.

A company spokesman said: "We can confirm that, following a ballot process, the BFAWU has indicated that a small number of our people representing less than 0.01% of our workforce are intending to strike in two of our 1,270 UK restaurants.

"As per the terms of the ballot, the dispute is solely related to our internal grievance procedures and not concerning pay or contracts.

"As announced in April this year, together with our franchisees, we are providing our people with the option of a guaranteed hour contract, and all restaurants will have these contracts in place by the end of 2017.

"McDonald's UK and its franchisees have delivered three pay rises since April 2016, this has increased the average hourly pay rate by 15%.

"We are proud of our people at McDonald's, they are at the heart of all we do and we work hard to ensure that our teams are treated fairly. Our internal processes underpin that commitment."

Around 40 workers formed a picket line this morning before attending a rally in Westminster.