Theresa May refuses to condemn McDonald's over 'poor working conditions, bullying and cuts to employee hours'

Prime Minister declines to comment on workers' walk-out over low pay and zero hours contracts

Benjamin Kentish
Wednesday 06 September 2017 13:34
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Theresa May: Issue of pay for McDonald's workers is up to them

Theresa May has refused to condemn McDonald’s over the “poor conditions, bullying and insecure hours” that its workers say is imposed on them.

Staff at two of the fast food chain’s stores voted to go on strike earlier in the week over low pay and insecure working hours – the first time any of the company’s staff had staged a walk-out in the UK.

Their trade union, the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Alliance said staff wanted a wage of at least £10 an hour and more secure hours.

The strike was raised by Jeremy Corbyn at the first session of Prime Minister’s Questions after Parliament’s summer recess.

The Labour leader said McDonald’s Chief Executive, Steve Easterbook, was paid a reported £11.8m last year – 1,300 times more than some of the chain’s workers, who are paid as little as £4.75 per hour.

He asked if the Prime Minister supported the McDonald’s workers’ case “for an end to zero hours contracts, and decent pay”.

Ms May replied: “Obviously the issue that has taken place with McDonald’s is a matter for McDonald’s to deal with.”

She also claimed that zero hours contracts were beneficial to many people.

She said: “The number of people on zero hours contracts is very small. There are people who genuinely say it is a benefit to them to be on those contracts. For 13 years the Labour Party was in government and did nothing about zero hours contracts. It is this Conservative government that has put the workers first and banned exclusive zero hours contracts.”

There are around 800,000 people in Britain on zero contracts, Mr Corbyn said.

McDonald’s said it has given staff the choice of fixed or flexible contracts and that 86 per cent chose the latter.

It also said the strike relates to the company’s internal grievance procedures rather than pay or contracts.

A spokesperson said: “As announced in April this year, together with our franchises, we are providing our people with the option of a guaranteed hour contract, and all restaurants will have these contracts in place by the end of 2017.

“McDonald’s UK and its franchisees have delivered three pay rises since April 2016, this has increased the average hourly pay rate by 15 per cent.

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