A large number of McDonald’s workers gathered in Watford town centre at lunchtime today to protest against pay and for their rights.

Staff from outlets in Watford were joined by colleagues across the country as #McStrike bought a small corner of the high street to a standstill.

Watford Observer:

Organised by the Bakers, Food, and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU), workers were accompanied by Shadow Minister for Labour, Laura Pidcock, as they demanded minimum pay of £10 an hour, better rights for younger workers, an end to zero hour contracts, and more respect from management from the fast-food giants.

Richard Shattock, 26, from Abbots Langley has been a member of the BFAWU since 2015. He joined the union when he got his job at McDonalds.

Watford Observer:

Protesting today, he said: “I didn’t think twice when I was given the opportunity to strike. If it helps get better pay and conditions, then I’d take this kind of action every day.

“When I first started, I bore the brunt of some quite horrible bullying and I’ve seen people in tears. The turnout we had today sends a message that we will be listened to.”

Mohad Abdelhafid, 17, says he was inspired by last September’s strikes in Cambridge and Crayford. He is working at McDonald’s to save up for university and was delighted to receive widespread support.

He said: “I’m happy to get the support from anywhere. The more workers who put pressure on, the more likely McDonald’s might listen. I was so inspired by September that I even joined the union.

Watford Observer:

Josh Khan, 18, who works at the Watford high street store near the ring road flyover, described the protest as an “opportunity” to be heard.

Shadow Minister for Labour, Laura Pidcock MP addressed the large crowd.

A former McDonald’s worker herself, she said: “This is a situation of low pay, long hours, and insecure work and we are saying no to all of that.

“Shifts are long if you can get them and when they are working, they face criticism from customers and management. And some can’t even afford a roof over their head because of the pay which is a disgrace.”

Watford Observer:

(left ro right) Richard Shattock, Jagtar Singh-Dhindsa, and Josh Khan

Labour mayoral candidate Jagtar Singh-Dhindsa expressed his support for a minimum £10 an hour wage saying age wasn’t a factor and that in the end people are doing the same job.

The protest was firmly aimed at CEO of McDonald’s, Steve Easterbook, who was born in Watford.

Watford Observer:

McDonald’s believe that only three people scheduled to work took strike action on the day, which coincided with International Workers Day.

Following the protests, a spokesperson for McDonald’s said: "We can confirm that industrial action took place outside five of our 1,270 restaurants today. We take the interests and wellbeing of our people very seriously and encourage anyone to speak up if they ever have any concerns.

“Our people can talk to our managers and raise issues informally, or more formally through our grievance procedure, and this is our preferred route to dealing with issues relating to our workforce.

“The intended strike action relates to pay and contracts. Since September 2015, we have made three significant pay moves.

Watford Observer:

Shadow minister for Labour, Laura Pidcock MP

"As promised last year, everyone has now been offered a minimum guaranteed hours contract. Despite this, around 80% of our people have selected to stay on flexible contracts because they value the opportunity to fit their work around their other commitments.”

Click here to watch a video from today's protest on our Facebook page