Fast food chain workers across 150 US cities and in 33 countries staged a mass strike on Thursday, in a protest against low pay.
Workers and those who joined them in solidarity targeted companies including McDonalds, Burger King, Wendy’s, in cities from New York to Seoul, in the hope that the action would persuade companies to raise their wages to $15-an-hour (£8).
Hundreds of demonstrators in the US city of New York attempted to draw attention to their cause in the bustling city by beating drums, blowing whistles, and chanting outside a branch of pizza chain Domino’s.
The manager on duty inside said no employees from the store were participating, while a handful of customers squeezed past the protesters to get inside. Protests in Miama and Philadelphia also did not disrupt operations at targeted restaurants.
Meanwhile in Denmark, McDonald's worker Louise Marie Rantzau explained how activists had used social media to stage their protest, by taking photos outside Burger King stores.
Rantzau, who earns about $21 (£12.50) an hour, said a collective agreement with McDonald's in the country prevents workers from protesting the chain.
Although fast food workers are historically difficult to unionise because many work part-time hours or are teenagers who quickly move on, the demonstrations were the culmination of a campaign that started in New York City in 2012, and has been gathering pace since.
In March, three lawsuits filed in different US states accused fast food giant McDonald’s of denying workers breaks and engaging in practices that deprived employees of their rightful wages.
Workers were referred to lawyers by union organizers, who announced protests over “wage theft” the following week.
While many customers told reporters they were not aware of the ongoing protests, the campaign has nevertheless captured national media attention at a time when the income gap between the rich and poor has widened.
Fast food wage protests across the world
Fast food wage protests across the world
1/10 Fast food strikes
Fast-food workers take part in a protest to demand an increase of the fastfood workers minimun wage in New York
AFP PHOTO/Emmanuel DunandEMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images
2/10 Fast food strikes
Demonstrators gather outside a McDonald's resturant in New York May
3/10 Fast food strikes
A Mariachi band takes part in a protest in front of a McDonald's restaurant in Chicago, Illinois
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Emmanuel Dawson protests for higher wages outside a McDonalds restaurant in Detroit
AP Photo/Paul Sancya
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Labour union members raise placards to demand payment of 1,500 yen ($15) an hour for a part-time job at a McDonald's fast-food restaurant in Tokyo
AFP PHOTO / Yoshikazu TSUNOYOSHIKAZU TSUNO/AFP/Getty Images
6/10 Fast food strikes
Burger King employee Brittany Buckhannon, 24, right, demonstrates during a protest for higher wages and worker's unions outside a McDonald's restaurant in Atlanta,Georgia.
AP Photo/David Goldman
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Selmira Wilson (R) who said she works for McDonald's joins in a fast food workers protest in Miami, Florida.
Joe Raedle/Getty Images
8/10 Fast food strikes
Demonstrators take part in a protest to demand higher wages for fast-food workers outside McDonald's in Los Angeles, California
9/10 Fast food strikes
Fast food workers protest for higher wages and rights outside a branch of McDonalds in central London
AFP PHOTO / CARL COURTCARL COURT/AFP/Getty Images
10/10 Fast food strikes
A protester dressed as Ronald McDonald participates in a rally to demand higher wages for fast-food workers outside a McDonald restaurant in Seoul, South Korea
AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon
In a statement, McDonald's said that the actions were not strikes and accused outside groups of "travell[ing] to McDonald's and other outlets to stage rallies.”
The company, which has more than 35,000 locations globally, said the debate over wages needed to take into account “the highly competitive nature of the industries that employ minimum wage workers.”
The National Restaurant Association which represents business called the actions "nothing more than big labour's attempt to push their own agenda."
Meanwhile, President Barack Obama has also been working to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. The current rate of $7.25 an hour translates to about $15,000 a year, assuming a person works 40 hours a week.Reuse content