The following deals with the struggle of McDonalds workers in Indonesia, where I am involved in supporting the organising activities of restaurant workers. Workers from several different fast food restaurants, including the sacked union organisers from McDonalds, have now formed a workers' forum called FORMAsI.
The following case is taken from a report in the HRCT (Hotel, Restaurant, Catering & Tourism) Bulletin of the International Union of
Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied
Workers' Associations (IUF).
"At McDonald's largest restaurant Surabaya, 160 workers held a two-day
strike over working conditions and the planned dismissal of 60 workers
due to the economic crisis. The workers refused to accept the dismissals on the grounds that business has not been affected at the restaurant. In fact, they are forced to work overtime. They protested against what they saw as the management's attempt to use crisis as an excuse to cut costs, dismiss workers and increase workloads. The workers demanded the right to have written employment contracts, an end to arbitrary and unfair dismissals, the right to form a trade union, and an end to company policies such as the requirement that when a worker marries another worker at any McDonald's outlet, one of them must resign. They also demanded a wage increase, as McDonald's wages are below the legal minimum of Rp.5,750 or US$0.57 according to the exchange rate last August.
On the second day of the strike the union was formally declared and the
union leadership elected. The union then entered into negotiations with
management, but negotiations were stalled for a month due to the management's refusal to accept any of the demands. Instead, the manager harassed and intimidated workers individually, threatening to fire them for being union members. Once support for the union was weakened, all of the union leaders were dismissed. More than 50 members resigned in protest. The remaining workers were forced (one by one) to sign letters agreeing not to hold demonstrations again or to form a union."