From the Website of the British Trotskyite group, Workers Power
This summer, Revolution the socialist youth group is launching a campaign of stunts and unionisation on the high street to fight against the harsh working conditions dealt to young workers.
Globalisation has many faces – the summits of world leaders, the war on Iraq, the hysterical stockbrokers sweating over the latest change in oil prices. One of the most immediate faces of globalisation is on the high street.
We’ve all heard the stories of McDonald’s environmental destruction, Nike’s sweatshop factory conditions and the slave labour that goes into harvesting the coffee for cafe chains.
These are all big problems, which have implications the world over, but the harsh effects of globalisation aren’t confined to overseas. Every high street in Britain is staffed by young low paid workers, whose hard work fills the pockets of their bosses.
The minimum wage is just £5.05 for workers 22 and over. Younger workers get an even rawer deal – just £4.25 an hour for under-21s, £3.00 an hour for 16 and 17 year old, and no protection at all for under-16 year olds!
These wages are well below what even the European Union says is needed to live decently – £9 an hour – and the fight for a £9 living wage for all workers is the key target the campaign is fighting for.
But the campaign is about more than just winning enough money to live decently on – although it’s an indictment of the system we live in when a fight needs to be mounted for enough money for proper food, housing and transport. What the Supersize My Pay campaign can offer is a way for young workers – who are often unorganised because of the type of work they do and because by and large they aren’t touched by the unions – to collectively fighting back for better conditions.
The name of the campaign is taken from an organisation drive initiated by unions in New Zealand who made a push to recruit young workers in Pizza Hut, Starbucks and KFC amongst others and has already won increases in pay in several workplaces.
Whilst we don’t have the membership numbers to have the same clout as a trade union campaign, we will be trying to get young workers to join a union and asking for support and information from local union branches. A victory for young workers in a branch of a well-known high street chain could be a significant step forward and inspire further action and organisation.