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20/01/02 . by Josephine Pivert, Paris . Indymedia . UK
Paris: sacked McDonald's workers organise a strike and get their jobs back
Since the 24th October the workers at the Strasbourg- St.Denis branch of McDonald's in Paris have been on strike for the reinstatement of five of their colleagues, who were accused of theft by the management (who have not provided any evidence for their claim).
It was obviously a coincidence that the five workers sacked were candidates for the 'elections professionnelles', a kind of works council. A support committee was quickly formed to help the young strikers and over 50 different trade union and political groups have joined it, from the CGT union, to the Greens and the revolutionary-socialist LCR. The management ignored the strikers at first which quickly made clear to the strikers and the support committee that the movement had to be expanded. For this reason the strikers and the committee have been regularly picketing a different McDonald's branch since November.
These actions have made it possible to come to a list of demands: for a 6% wage increase; better working conditions; bonuses for 'dirty work'; recognition of the right to strike and the right for trade union organisation... This has broadened out the struggle and inceased the consciousness of the employees, to show that the fight is not only against the management [of one branch], but against employment without protection and workers' rights [i.e. against 'McJobs'].
The offer to negotiate was the first victory for the unprotected workers who had then been on strike for almost three months, but this movement is also important for other reasons. Strikes in the fast-food industry are new and make the working conditions in this sector known to a wider public. These workers were also ignored until now by the trade unions;
The movement puts into the foreground the question of unprotected employment and the difficulties that young people have as wage-dependents under capitalism;
Above all, this fight shows that young unprotected workers can become aware of and fight against their particular oppression.
McJobs, jobs characterised by low wages, extreme 'flexibility' and individualisation at work, are just one example of global capitalism.
This struggle shows us, that despite this system, a system in which unprotected employment, employment without rights is becoming the norm, the workers at McDonald's and in other firms can become aware that they live in a class society and are part of a class and therefore can take influence on what happens.
The five young workers who were sacked won a tribunal case against McDonald's on 25th January and the court said they have to be given their jobs back.
However the fight is not over and there was a massive demo in Paris on 2nd February.
Email the strikers at firstname.lastname@example.org
Translated from the German. The author is a member of the LCR and the article originally appeared in the journal 'Avanti' 2/2002, published in Mannheim, Germany.
The article was written on 20th January and has been updated.