The day McDonald’s workers walked out on strike was the best day of Shen Batmaz’s life: she has even tattooed the date on her arm. “I was so tired and overwhelmed,” she recalls as she stood on a picket line outside a branch of the fast-food chain in Crawley. “I was standing there with people I worked with and loved; we were working together to achieve something. It was the most powerful I’d ever felt in my life.” . . .

McStrike proved a detonator, inspiring young workers for whom unions were alien . . . : “Old men sitting in a room debating issues that were out of date a generation ago.” When she saw young McDonald’s workers fighting for basic rights, it was an education: “They were under 30, we could relate to them.” Their demands – a £10-an-hour minimum wage, the abolition of discriminatory youth rates, and union recognition – are modest in their own right, but they require a radical change to a precariousness hardwired into Britain’s economic model . . .

What gives hope is that young people are not simply looking at winning gains in their own workplaces: their vision is nothing less than the transformation of the entire sector, and society itself. “We’re not naive enough to think we’ll be handed everything straight away,” Hepple says. “But if we come together in the hospitality industry, we hope we can drive wages and conditions not just in our industry, but across society in general.”

They don’t just want a decent wage and rights: they want a voice in their workplace too. Neoliberalism has left Britain’s boss classes drunk on triumphalism, paying themselves record salaries and bonuses while their workers are imprisoned by poverty and insecurity. It was never going to last. Hubris may well be about to meet its nemesis: an army of young, precarious, but determined workers.

Owen Jones, “Young people are rewiring capitalism with their McStrike”, in theGuardian.com ; London : Guardian News and Media Limited, 4 october 2018 (excerpt La Litera información)


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