Category: Fast Food Workers

Organising the unorganised.

My experience of organising fast food workers.
By BFAWU (Bakers union) organiser Gareth Lane.


For the last six month I’ve been working as a community Organiser for the BFAWU.

My job is to organise fast food workers, Bar workers, and Coffee shop workers into the union. This involves me identifying workplaces in Community’s located across the North of England.

I have made contact and spoken to hundreds of fast food workers in McDonalds, KFC, Costa, Starbucks, If it sells food on a major  high street, chances are I’ve been there.

One lesson I’ve learned that stands out above any of the many lessons I have learned in this time is, Fast food workers are hero’s

I’ve met the single mum juggling to find childcare, and hang onto  hours despite all the difficulties and hardships of running a family on her own. A Middle aged woman fitting in as many hours as possible whilst being a carer for her elderly parent.

The sole bread winner who holds down three jobs working 60 hours a week, The wide eyed youngster who’s first job it is, Who’s sure there’s a better life just waiting round the corner, to the university graduate who thought that working in fast food would see them through university but find themselves still there Five years after graduation.

Every fast food worker has a story, Every fast food worker is a Hero, Every Fast Food worker Gets up every day to work in a job that society undervalues, To be treated with less than dignity by their employer,

Fast food workers have taught me that working in fast food is a hard skillful job,

It’s a real skill to learn to  deal with bullying and aggressive bosses, who hold the power of deciding the weeks rota and what hours you work, The boss  can decide if you have the heating on that week or weather you get the kids the new shoes they need, All with the stroke of a pen.

McDonald’s with its zero hour contracts or  KFC with its four hour contracts will claim that workers enjoy the flexibility of zero hour contracts and can organise their work to fit into their life when in reality  the opposite is true, Life is impossible to organise on an ever changing pattern of hours,  The insecurity of the work keeps you a pay packet from poverty, and forces you to tow the Mcline.

Generally young workers are discriminated against because of age under 18s get paid less, under 21s get paid less and soon under the Tories new minimum wage under 25s will get paid less. All workers in this industry should be paid the same, regardless of age,  Food is not cheaper, There is no subsidy for rents if your under 25, there is no under 25s rate in Mothercare for cots and cradles so why should you be paid less.

The job itself is hard and dangerous next time you meet a fast food worker look at their arms and hands likelihood is they are covered in burns and bruises as a result of poorly maintained machinery, lack of health and safety and being forced to work to machine standard speed.

In a busy fast food workplace you hit the ground running its often a tense and pressured environment where every second counts as management attempts to squeeze as much work from you as possible in order to meet orders, workplaces are often understaffed meaning workers often forfeit break times in order to help struggling work mates,

Fast food workers as trade unionists,

The BFAWU is developing some incredible young trade unionists, young workers that understand the level of exploitation they are facing, Young workers that understand that by building a democratic union at the grass roots they can organise to bring real victories in their own workplaces and support others in their workplace,

Our model has been inspired by the fight for 15 in the USA. We are using tried and tested organising techniques from the campaign in the united states and the tradition of the Bakers Union

In this sense we build up our activist base by picking off small victories and building confidence amongst members and supporters, Whilst at the same time offering hope in the possibilities of a wage that’s life changing and deserved.

Our aim is to end inequality to raise wages and improve the conditions of those who work in this industry.

The BFAWU Says £10 an hour now.

Join us in the fight for dignity in work.

Watch the video ‘Demo at McDonalds’ here

For more information follow us on facebook


Gareth Lane
BFAWU Fast food
Northern England

Fair tips for waiting staff

Fair tips stamp
We won at Pizza Express! After Unite turned up the heat with a summer of campaigning the popular pizza chain announced (3 September 2015) that it would drop the 8% admin fee from tips left on a card. Giraffe, Ask, Zizzi, Byron Burger and most recently the Casual Dining Group, owners of Bella Italia, Belgo and Cafe Rouge have all said they too will scrap the fee and hand 100% of tips to staff.

But with restaurants like Wahaca, and Jamie’s Italian under fire for deducting a percentage of sales from credit card tips, Prezzo and Strada still swiping a slice as an admin fee and Bill’s restaurant accused of pocketing a large proportion of the service charge, it is clear that we’ve still got some way to go in the fight for fair tips.

Now we need the government to stamp out these rip off practices once and for all. We’ve set down an early day motion in parliament for MPs to get behind.

What you can do to help

You see the problem is that tips paid on a credit card and service charges are the property of the employer. As they own them they can do what they like with them. So until staff are given 100% ownership rights over their hard earned tips with complete control over how they are shared out, rogue employers will continue to cream off staff tips.

  • Please tip in cash – leaving cash means the whole amount will go to the staff (divided between waiters and kitchen staff).
  • Confused by the service charge? Then ask for this to be removed & leave it in cash instead
  • Share your story – Fed up of your employer taking a slice of your hard-earned tips? Tell us about it.
  • Work in the hospitality sector? Then we want to hear from you. Contact us. Get organised with Unite on your side
  • Follow Unite’s hospitality branch on Facebook and Twitter using #FairTips
  • Not in a union? The join Unite – Your union. You voice

Visit the campaign page and view the Fair Tips film here.

THIS SATURDAY! Sheff4Ten – Defend Our Unions

This Saturday 24th Oct – Public meeting
Novotel Sheffield, 1pm -2.30pm

Nick Rudikoff Senior Organiser with Service Employers Industry Union Talks about the great success of the American Union in the Fight for $15 and a union.

Ian Hodson National President of the Bakers Food Allied Workers Union Talks about the Fight for £10 an hour minimum wage and an end to zero hour contracts.

Louise Haigh MP  Labour MP Shadow Digital Minister and star of last week’s question time!

Fast Food worker to talk about conditions in the fast food industry.

Natalie Bennett Leader of the Green Party will join us via video message.

1pm Novotel

Pizza Express – Fair Tips Campaign Get Involved!

Congratulations to the activists who staged the first ‘Meal of Justice’ at Pizza Express. As part of the campaign to get Pizza Express to stop deducting a 8% ‘admin’ charge from tips paid by card Unite will be holding mini occupations of Pizza Express restaurants.
How does it work? It’s simple:

  1. have a meal at Pizza Express
  2. Pay the tip in cash
  3. Stand on chair and explain to the other diners that pizza Express take 8% from card tips and ask them to tip in cash. (Most people assume the tip goes to the staff).

There will be many more Meals of Justice at Pizza Express and as they are not the only ones at it – Côte Brasserrie, who take all the tips (see Evening Standard )


This campaign links with the call for workers to be paid the Living Wage.


Please share


Global fast food worker protest: major actions to hit Britain

On 15 April 2015, thousands of fast food workers will lead a mass movement of around 60,000 low waged workers striking across the United States to raise the issue of poor wages and the lack of trade union rights within their industry. At the same time, fast food workers and activists in 33 other countries around the world will also be taking action against low pay. Here in the UK, the Bakers’ Food and Allied Workers’ Union’s Fast Food Rights campaign, which works in conjunction with the US workers’ movement, is calling for an end to the use of zero hours contracts and demanding an increase in the minimum wage to £10 per hour.

Protests have been organised across the country against employers who are wilfully exploiting their workforce in order to boost their already significant profits. Fast Food Rights actions will take place in London, Glasgow, Sheffield, Manchester, Darlington, Leeds, Birmingham, Leicester, Cardiff and Southampton (For details:

One fast food worker on a zero hours contract said, “I’m joining the 15 April global day of action because zero hours contracts and low pay are no way to live. What the American fast food workers have done shows we can fight for better. It is great that the bakers’ union has taken up the fight for £10 an hour and union rights for fast food workers here, and that’s why me and my workmates have joined the union.”

Research recently carried out says that most employers have used the economic crisis to reduce pay and workers’ benefits, with profitable companies decimating the terms and conditions of their employees as a means to further boost profits.

In the UK, we are witnessing a huge rise of in work poverty, with vast swathes of the country’s labour force having to rely on benefits to top up paltry wages. The knock-on effect of this is that an increasingly high number of working people have no disposable income which in turn, has a negative effect on the economy. Indeed, research also suggests that people are often having to use more than 50 percent of their wages just to pay rent, leaving very little for food or other items.

Ian Hodson, national president of the Bakers’ Food and Allied Workers’ Union said, “It is a scandal that a number of people who are working full-time are having to suffer the indignity of visiting a food bank in order to feed their families. What a savage, damning indictment of austerity Britain and its government, which has clearly turned a blind eye to this shameful inequality and brazen exploitation.

“15 April will prove to be a massive day of action which, in addition to raising the plight of workers in the fast food industry, will also expose the government’s failure to properly deal with tax dodging companies. If that’s not enough, we will be joining together with other workers to stop the privatisation of the National Art Gallery and fight to secure affordable housing. This entire event will unite a number of issues to bring about a collective demand to end the total injustice caused by greedy employers, poverty wages and vulnerable employment contracts.”

For more information and interviews contact: Julie 07795 412 932 or Ian 07739 326 010; @fastfoodrights;;

Unite with Fast Food Workers

Unite Community members joined the Bakers Union today and took part in a series of demonstrations outside employers such as McDonalds and Starbucks in Sheffield.

These company’s make millions of pounds in profits but still employ workers on the minimum wage and use zero hour contracts. A rally was held after the direct action with speakers from the Bakers Union, the Labour party and other campaign groups.

More information on the bakers union can be found here and the campaign website here.


Unite Community Members in Leeds and Sheffield Supported Fast Food Rights Demonstrations

Thursday 15th May saw Fast Food Rights campaign protests take place in up to 20 towns and cities across the UK, as part of a global day of action targeting McDonald’s.

The day was centered around the largest fast food strikes yet in the US, where a movement of fast food workers’ strikes demanding $15 and union recognition has mushroomed since November 2012.

As US fast food workers embarked on a strike that would hit more than 150 cities, the IUF (international federation of food workers’ union) coordinated a global day of action that saw solidarity protests spread across over 30 countries. The day of action was launched on 7 May at an IUF hosted international conference, with delegates present from the BFAWU union and the Fast Food Rights campaign.

Watch this space for more action  Bakers Union website here.

Fast Food Rights1 fast food 2

Fast Food Rights


Unite Community Members in Sheffield took to the Streets to support the Bakers Union, with their Campaign to help organised Fast Food Workers on Saturday 15 February.

McDonalds were targeted to highlight the company’s continued anti-union stance and their continued use of Zero Hours Contracts. Other Actions took place in Leeds and Barnsley. More actions are planned and further info can be found here: