Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/805/18386
Junk jobs - we're fightin' it!
Youth Fight for Jobs (YFJ) called a day of action against zero-hour contracts on 29 March, which was supported by the Fast Food Rights campaign and the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU). 30 actions took place around the country to highlight the plight of workers on zero-hour contracts, call for a living wage of £10 an hour and contracted hours, and to appeal to those workers affected to get involved in the campaign and to join a union. See youthfightforjobs.com
30 people marched through Lewisham town centre in south London protesting outside Subway, McDonald's, Burger King and KFC.
The protest got a brilliant response from people shopping in the area who were disgusted at how low-paid workers in fast food restaurants and shops are being treated.
People took leaflets, stopped and listened to the chants and even joined the demonstration. Local trade unionists and anti-cuts campaigners had also turned out to support the protest.
When Fast Food Rights activists went into the restaurants to talk to staff we got an excellent response - one worker signed up to join BFAWU on the spot! The campaign is now discussing declaring Lewisham a 'living wage zone' and launching a huge fight to demand that all the area's employers pay workers at least £10 an hour.
There was more support later when campaigners carried out a tour of Leicester Square, one of central London's busiest eating areas.
Helen Pattison, London YFJ
Around 30 people supported the YFJ protest outside Sports Direct in Shirebrook, north Derbyshire. Sports Direct employs around 5,000 people in the Shirebrook area - 4,700 are on zero-hour contracts or temporary work arrangements.
Mike Ashley who owns Sports Direct, as well as the best part of Newcastle United football club, recently agreed to award himself a £65 million bonus.
There are many migrant workers and under-18s who work at Sports Direct. Some workers are being paid as little as £3.50 an hour and workers have to undergo humiliating searches when clocking off.
Our protest helped to show that no worker has to be left alone and defenceless in the face of bullying management.
Also on the protest were members of the GMB union, which organises some Sports Direct workers, the Fire Brigades Union, the Socialist Party and other activists.
Nathan Sharpe, Mansfield and north Derbyshire Socialist Party
Our second day of action had a big impact on workers in Newcastle. People agreed with our leaflets and many had their own stories to tell.
Beth Farhat, regional secretary of the TUC, brought a lot of young workers to the stall while also promoting the TUC's fair pay fortnight.
We went inside the likes of Burger and McDonald's advertising our public meeting for fast food workers on the 12 April, Brunswick Church, 12pm.
We also signed people up to the union. Everyone was enthusiastic about taking our campaign forward and won't stop until we end zero-hour contracts.
Paul Phillips, Newcastle YFJ
McDonald's felt the presence of the Fast Food Rights campaign in Swansea. Security and managers were posted at all entrances and we were barred from entering.
But outside we had a great reception, with local people, young and old, flocking to sign our petition.
We heard horror stories of young workers on one-hour contracts and other examples of exploitation.
YFJ worked alongside local Socialist Party members and Greggs workers organised in BFAWU.
Gareth Bromhall, Swansea YFJ
Nick Parker, secretary of Lincoln and District TUC, said: "we're proud to support the fight to put an end to low pay and the use of zero-hour contracts and commend Youth Fight for Jobs for calling this national day of action.
"Politicians like George Osborne keep telling us that the economy is in recovery and unemployment is falling.
"If that's true then companies like McDonald's, which made a UK profit of more than £243 million in 2012, can afford to share the proceeds of the recovery with their workers, and give them proper hours instead of permanent insecurity.
"We call on fast-food workers to emulate their US counterparts who have built up a magnificent movement of protests and walkouts for $15 an hour. Join BFAWU and organise together to fight for your rights at work."
Lincoln and District TUC
In Wakefield, Leeds and Sheffield, activists from YFJ were joined by other supporters of the Fast Food Rights campaign.
In Wakefield, activists ran a stall outside McDonald's on Kirkgate. We spoke to loads of people passing by, including one person who explained how McDonald's had forced her out by reducing her shifts after the first time she refused to do overtime.
Iain Dalton, Yorkshire YFJ organiser
In Liverpool the day of action was the latest in a series of protests and campaign stalls on the issue of zero-hour contracts.
The fantastic response we received has come to be expected. I've lost count of the number of people, of all ages, who have approached us in solidarity, shaken our hands, and exchanged stories with us of their own experiences or those of people they know.
The demonstration we held was outside Sports Direct. A security guard who approached us to find out what we were all about left with a smile on his face and one of our leaflets in his hand.
Another man stopped and told us he was an employer of 45 people and was utterly disgusted with the practice of zero-hour contracts.
We plan to continue the campaign and have further actions. It's time to get rid of zero-hour contracts.
Giorgo Moulas, Liverpool Socialist Party youth organiser
Mark Best of Coventry Youth Fight For Jobs said "Young people today aren't represented by any of the main parties in parliament. We're not apathetic, we're angry and we're going to do something about it."
Our message was loud and clear in Cardiff, aimed at the fast-food companies who rake in huge profits at the cost of exploiting their workers, with chants such as "What do we Want? Union Rights! When do we want them? Now!" and "Living Wage, no matter your age!".
We split into groups and leafleted some of the fast food workplaces along Queen Street, the main shopping area in Cardiff.
Then, following the example of activists across the pond in the US we tried a loop protest. We marched around in a circle chanting and waving placards.
This form of protest developed because static protests are banned in the US. While they are allowed in the UK we thought that a loop protest would inject energy and draw more public attention. We weren't wrong!
Afterwards we set up a YFJ campaign stall and held a rally. We spoke about the need for fighting trade unions like BFAWU in fast food workplaces.
We warned that if the government and employers get away with normalising zero-hour contracts then workers may as well be handed a blank piece of paper in place of a contract.
In The Socialist 2 April 2014:
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International socialist news and analysis
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