McDonald’s employees slam ‘poverty wages’

NEW YORK. — Thousands of McDonald’s employees and union activists descended on the company’s headquarters near Chicago yesterday to hold the biggest ever protest against “poverty wages” paid to most of its 400 000 employees, as the company’s board gathered for its annual shareholder meeting.

About 5 000 McDonald’s employees from across the US chanted: “We work, we sweat, put $15 in our cheque” as they marched towards the burger giant’s headquarters holding banners reading “McDonald’s: $15 and Union Rights, Not Food Stamps”.

As the meeting began protesters delivered a petition signed by 1,4 million people calling on the company to support a $15 minimum wage and to respect workers’ rights to unionise.

“We’re here to tell McDonald’s and its shareholders to invest in the company and its workers instead of wealthy hedge fund managers and executives,” said Kwanza Brooks, a McDonald’s worker and mother of three from Charlotte, North Carolina, who is paid $7,25 an hour. “We’re tired of relying on food stamps to feed our own families. We need $15 and the right to form a union and we need it now.”

Terrence Wise (35), travelled 12 hours by bus from Kansas City with his three young daughters. “Was it worth it to stand here? Yes definitely. I want my voice to be heard. I’ve worked at McDonald’s and Burger King for 11 years earning $8 an hour. I have three little girls to care for. I work two jobs, my partner works too, yet we still struggle to survive. We rely on food stamps. I don’t want to live on food stamps, I want to get paid what I deserve and work hard for. McDonald’s can clearly afford to pay us a living wage. They need to, now.”

McDonald’s dismissed the demonstrations as a publicity campaign by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which is working to organise workers across the fast-food industry. “The union has spent its members’ dues money in the past two years attacking the McDonald’s brand. . .in an unsuccessful attempt to unionise workers,” the company said in a statement. — The Guardian.