Strike report: Bunny Street McDonalds, Wellington

Heleyni on megaphone outside of Bunny St

Bunny St McDonalds had its second McStrike today with seven members of staff dropping tools and coming out to join the picket line, in fact they’d already come outside before the picket line had even been set up.

The picket began as supporters came around the corner and saw the workers already set up outside, with the first chant of the day starting “old McDonalds had a strike, e I e I o, and on that strike there was Unite, e I e I o. With a strike, strike here and a strike, strike there. Here a strike, there a strike, everywhere a strike strike. Old McDonalds had a strike…”

There was a huge well of support for the strike, with a large, visible majority of people clearly choosing not to come inside (the difference in walk in traffic is obvious as soon as the picket line ends, people flood in).

The store owner was clearly rattled and angry, demanding that we stay well clear of the main door and that we don’t try to dissuade people from coming inside, claiming that he was concerned about ‘health and safety’. When challenged that real health and safety issues were understaffing his store, paying the minimum wage, and in effect stealing pay by not letting staff go on their legal breaks, he stalked inside glaring outside every so often.

A number of people decided to show solidarity by going elsewhere, when confronted with the workers and the picket line.

A small minority of people decided to push their way through in their desperate desire to get their burgers. The people who pushed through were arguing a number of points, that it was their right, that we would get more support if we just let people in, or that they just wanted to get in and we weren’t going to stop them.

What’s interesting about this situation with these people who pushed so hard for their right to consume their burger, is the primacy of the relationship between the consumer and the burger, if they were confronted by the workers, they quickly pushed past and went inside, desperately trying to ignore them. The relationship is between the consumer and the burger, not the consumer and the worker.

Already rumours are going around of wildcat strikes all around the city that haven’t happened, and yet the workers at various stores swear they have. Management are trying desperately to shut down any discussion about what is happening and yet this is only giving off the impression that there is something to hide, which fuels the interest and reputation of the union.

On Monday the first public War Council meeting will be held [6pm at Peoples’ Cinema] for Unite members and supporters to plan and organize future actions and stunts. Members have been really excited at the idea of coming together and pushing this campaign forwards and fighting to win.

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