At the time of writing there has been a lot of controversy on social media regarding McDonalds employees striking and demanding a £15 an hour wage. A lot of parties are rather split about the case of should they or shouldn’t they be making that much money to ‘just make fast food’ and that other ‘more important’ professions get paid less for a more demanding role. It’s a sort of losing battle on both ends.
There’s this thing in the world today that we value some jobs to be better or more important than others. Doctors, Lawyers, CEO’s and Teachers being deemed as more important professions than that of fast food workers, call center employees and those cool kids who swing a sandwich board around to entice you into a place. But are these jobs really more important and, should they be more respected? In some ways yes but in other ways no.
Obviously if you look at it from a standpoint of what’s important to a society Doctors, Nurses, Emergency Services, and Teachers would be right up there with the unsung hero’s that are people who train pelicans to dance. Fast food employees and other jobs that get demeaned a lot wouldn’t be high on the list. That’s not to belittle those workers, but everyone would rather be able to get medical care over being able to buy a McFlurry.
What people tend to forget is the fact that a lot of these jobs that get belittled are actually hard work and should get respected. Without these people you won’t be able to get your Happy Meal and won’t be able to play with your wee toy. These people provide a service that many people use and quite frankly abuse. They also have equally as tough a work day, or in many cases tougher in a fast paced environment, where many people would crumble faster than you can say “99p chicken mayo please pal”.
Every job is different, every job has shit parts to it unless you clean up shit from sceptic tanks for a living then your job is mainly shit. We shouldn’t belittle someone’s job just because it has a lower standing amongst society. Regardless of your profession and job, if you put a good shift in and work hard, you should be respected for it.
To learn a little more McDonalds life and understand in more detail why this strike controversy has been a thing, I caught up with my pal Kirsty, formerly known as Shambles, whom is a current McDonalds employee of a few years, to talk about life as a Golden Arches worker.
You’ve aware of this potential strike amongst McDonalds employees, you’ve probably talked about it with your colleagues and seen the outrage on social media. What are your general thoughts on this matter, do you feel McDonalds workers deserve a rise in pay?
Yeah, I really do feel as though McDonald’s workers should get a rise in pay. Of course we’d all love to get paid 15 quid an hour however this is unattainable for the restaurants to deliver on. I firmly believe all employees should be paid a minimum of the living wage; as much as all wages offered by the company for crew members are above the minimum wage, it doesn’t afford for people to have a house, pay the bills which come along with running a home and actually live – by that I mean socialise with friends, have a hobby etc. I’m not saying it’s only McDonald’s workers that feel this way as the current economic climate is rough for everyone no matter what job they may be in however, McDonald’s workers behind this ‘McStrike’ shouldn’t be getting shamed for striking for a cause which obviously means a lot not just for them but for the thousand’s of employees employed by McDonald’s throughout the UK
Do you feel this strike is warranted and that it will actually create change to McDonalds workers all over?
The majority of people you hear about striking are from London where their cost of living is significantly higher so I do believe there is great cause as to why these people would be striking. A lot of people have focused on the strike just being about employees wanting £15 an hour, there’s more to it than that. They’re striking for guaranteed hours and knowing their schedule four weeks in advance. Guaranteed hours should be a thing; many people think zero hour contracts are a thing of the past but that just isn’t true. In the six years I’ve worked for the company I’ve seen people’s weekly hours be used as weapon against them eg. if someone ‘No shows’ for a shift they’ll have two shifts the next week; yes that person no showing was an inconvenience and it is easy to pick up the phone and call in however, loosing 60% of an average weekly pay without any notice is damaging to people’s lives… There’s a disciplinary route for dealing with people not turning up for shifts.
Also, not knowing how many hours you’re going to get a week is scary, with a lot of people paying rent/mortgages and trying to feed themselves and families it’s not fair for them to be living their life on the edge.
Now I’d like to make it clear that McDonald’s as a company have started dishing out guaranteed hour contracts, however in my experience the number of these contracts have been limited. Even more so when a restaurant is franchised as opposed to company run. Also scheduling in some restaurant is ridiculous; my sister who worked in another store would on a regular basis not receive the schedule for the week commencing on the Monday until a Sunday night. How can anyone plan anything in their lives if they don’t have any notice of their schedule? Many McDonald’s operate 24/7 so there’s no guarantee of having ANY point of any day free. So with this in mind staff should certainly have notice of their schedule four weeks in advance to enable them to have some order In their lives, make plans with friends, arrange childcare.
Take us through an average day in the life of a Maccies worker for all the humans who don’t know how it really operates?
In a 24/7 McDonald’s there are four shifts: the open, day shift, back shift and the overnight. Opens start around 6/7 in the morning and get the store set up for the day, stock up, put desserts out, serve breakfast and make the transition from breakfast to main menu. The overnights deep clean the store and get it ready for the next working day. During all shifts you’ll either be taking/presenting orders or assembling food/drinks. You need to make sure that you’re following all food safety procedures and keeping the store presentable at all times. You never know when you’re going to get a visit from one of your Operations Consultants or even Franchisee so you need to always be alert. We have targets which have to be met, for example total experience time through the drive thru is expected to be no more that 120 seconds from the moment you finish placing the order to the point you receive the order… As you may imagine this can get stressful.
Dependant on your level as well you will have additional tasks; Crew trainers are responsible for the training of staff be it ongoing, or instructing new starts. They are also responsible for completing two station observation check lists a shift, this is a means of assessing how well staff are following procedures and determining if any retracing is needed. Shift managers are responsible for ensuring the smooth running of shifts, cashing up of tills , food quality checks, making sure all legal documentation is being completed and taking responsibility for customers’ experience. A lot of McDonalds workers are actually young and tend to be either still in school or going through higher education and just work at McDonalds to supplement their income.
A lot of McDonalds workers are actually young and tend to be either still in school or going through high education and just work at McDonalds to supplement their income. As someone who is currently studying applied nursing, do you ever get annoyed about people belittling McDonalds workers and it being deemed as a sort of failure in life to be working there as the stereotype goes?
A lot of the people who tend to look down at people that work in McDonald’s tend to be unhappy in some aspect of their life, in order to attempt to belittle someone for making a living. Yeah it’s horrible and ultimately funny as well because people forget who is actually giving them the 20 nuggets at 3am in the morning which they’ve decided they so urgently need. I’ve grown up through working in McDonald’s; I started at the age of 16 whilst I was still in school and just wanting money to get on it at the weekend, and it’s been there for me when I decided to drop out of college the first time, they kept me on as a seasonal worker when I decided I was leaving Glasgow to work at an outdoor activity centre which was only seasonal, and when I decided I was staying home for good they gave me two promotions in less than a year. People shouldn’t feel embarrassed for turning up and doing there job and making a living, especially if you’ve been well looked after like me. A lot of people don’t understand that McDonald’s is a company that can get people very far in life, if a career in Maccies is what they want. People can work up to managing their own stores or even working in the Head Office strategising 5 and 10 year plans for the company. If that’s what people want to perceive as being a dead end job then that’s up to them.
With the work day being tough and tedious, is there a side to working at McDonalds you feel people need to be more aware of, that doesn’t get really get noticed by the public?
I think what you’ve said about people not fully acknowledging that people do other things as well as working in McDonald’s; people can come straight from school to do a full 8 hour shift, without even getting a chance to go home. Staff get exhausted; it’s only human to make mistakes – we get it’s not ideal when this happens to you but it isn’t deliberate. Also there’s been times when staff have stayed on to help when someone’s called in sick, and have landed up doing 16 hour shifts just so you can get a double cheeseburger at 4.40am. Forgive them if they’re not the life and soul of the party.
What specific skills and lessons have learned from working in McDonalds that could be applied to other fields of work and your career in the future?
I think the biggest lesson you can learn from working in McDonald’s is team work; it is impossible to provide the level of customer experience expected from us working individually, we all need a bit of a hand now and again. Dealing with the public, that’s a hard one to learn and perfect, but I’m getting there – whilst being a Nurse I believe this will be beneficial, also the ability to stand and say nothing whilst getting dog’s abuse from people over the simplest things to remedy. Also my management qualification is well known by employers as McDonald’s is a global brand, so will stand me in good stead for progressing in my nursing career.
Being one of the main hot spots for drunken and hungover people, do you have any horror stories of customers you would like to share?
I honestly have so many stories, you would not believe half of the things that happen in McDonalds; I once had a woman stand at the till area, spread her legs apart and just pee on the floor, take her food then walk away. I also once had to dispose of a large poo which someone had decided to do on the floor in front of the toilet. There was also one incident when a man threw a cup of boiling hot tea at a colleague because they misheard them as he was trying to order a latte.
Big thanks to Kirsty for this and I hope this brings more of an insight to you all about life as a McDonalds employee. Regarding the question of ‘do McDonalds employees deserve £15 an hour?’. I would say no, but do they deserve a pay rise for the shit they go through just to provide you with your chicken nuggets? Yes they do. Their job is hard and rather shite.
Personally I don’t think I could do it; I would be impressed if lasted a day. Plus who wants to deal with mothers complaining at you at the cash desk because their obese kid has gotten the same toy in their happy meal for the 3rd time that week.
Swankie – 23, Founder of Loveable Loser