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© Jess Hurd/Reportdigital

Why young people like me are striking against poverty wages

Published date
Going on strike taught me that we’re stronger when we stand together. For the first time, I felt like we had real power in our workplace.

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Last September, my union organiser called me with the news: there was going to be a strike at McDonald's – the first ever in the UK.

When I went along to meet the workers there, I listened to them talk about poverty wages and terrible conditions.

Their stories weren't new to me, because I was scraping by as a McDonald's worker too.

Poverty wasn’t just a word to me – I was living it.

I knew that if the manager decided to take shifts away from me I would end up homeless. And all the workers at my store were struggling just the same.

Everyone I worked with was barely making ends meet. People were working 12-hour shifts every day just to make their rent – and 7 days a week because the free meal we got on our break was the only way we could feed ourselves.

So when one worker bravely walked out of her store to mark the start of the strike, I decided to take part in the action too.

For the next 24 hours, I stood in solidarity with these brave workers. It was one of the most inspiring experiences of my life.

I blocked my managers from seeing my story on snapchat, then broadcast the whole strike to my co-workers so they could see what was happening.

At last, McDonald’s workers were making their voice heard.

These workers were fighting against zero-hour contracts, for £10 an hour wages and for respect – the exact same issues we were struggling with at our store.

So I started signing people up to the union. And this May I too led my workmates out on the first strike at a Manchester McDonald’s, alongside workers from four other stores down south.

Going on strike taught me that we’re stronger when we stand together. For the first time, I felt like we had real power in our workplace.

And because the labour movement and our communities supported us, we knew what we were doing was right.

Because fighting for £10 is right, fighting to end zero hours is right, and fighting for a fairer future is right.

Our voice needs to reach all those young workers across the country who are struggling to get by. We need to tell them that they are powerful when they stand together with a union.

Our parents have had a better life than we face. They could retire, go on holiday, own a car and maybe even their own home. But my generation are having to fight just to get a wage that pays enough to live on.

That’s why I'll be so proud tomorrow to stand alongside other workers who aren’t getting a fair deal – TGI Friday's waiting staff who are fighting for their tips, JD Wetherspoons workers who are already winning pay rises, and with every McDonald's worker who has had the courage to stand up and be counted.

If you want to be part of history, you should join us on the picket line. And you should join the trade union movement.

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