Thousands of workers at McDonald’s and other fast food outlets across the US have gone on strike in a growing movement for higher wages.
Workers in 60 cities joined the strike to fight for $US15 an hour – double what most currently earn – and the right to form a union without retaliation, organisers said.
Protesters gathered outside a McDonald’s on New York’s posh Fifth Avenue at dawn and workers put down burgers and fries across the country in what organisers called the largest-ever strike to hit the $US200 billion fast-food industry.
“They make millions that come from our feet. They can afford to pay us better,” Shaniqua Davis, 20, said.
Davis has a one-year-old child and works at a branch of the restaurant in the Bronx where she earns $US7.25 an hour.
“I have bills to pay. I need to buy diapers. I can hardly buy food. I am treated good but we need more money.”
She said if it wasn’t for food stamps and help she received to pay her rent “I would already be on the street”.
Tyeisha Batts, 27, works at a Burger King in Manhattan after being fired from her previous job at Wendy’s for “taking a break without permission”.
She works only 28 hours a week, “because if you work 30 hours they have to give you health insurance”.
Batts earns between $US80 and $US100 a week, but has to pay $US30 a week to take the subway from her home in Brooklyn.
“They make millions of profit. We deserve better,” she said.
The protest movement first began in New York last November with a strike by 200 workers but quickly spread across the country with strikes in July.
On Thursday organisers said the strike will hit some 1000 major fast-food restaurants, including Burger King, Wendy’s, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut and KFC.
Many of the three million fast-food workers in the US don’t work full-time and cannot count on tips like those who staff bars and restaurants.
During the previous strike in July, McDonald’s said workers’ individual contracts were a matter for the franchisees who operate more than 80 per cent of the company’s outlets around the world.