Like many things in popular British culture, inspiration is often sought from what the Americans are doing. In a diverse state such as the United States, whereby fragmentation along race, class and religious lines is all too easily achieved, the unification and collectivisation of its workers within the fast food sector is all the more admirable.
A movement has been growing across the America. Fast food workers, no longer content with being told that they are only worth the minimum in terms of wages, hours and job security, are rising up. The ‘fight for $15’ campaign, which has been ongoing since 2012, was the original spark in this spreading industrial wildfire. From fairly humble beginnings, with 200 minimum-paid fast food workers in New York taking strike action against the multi-billion dollar corporations such as McDonalds, the movement has grown like the aforementioned wildfire. Workers in other sectors, such as retail, home health-care and airport services began to question why they should only be afforded the bare minimum. A cultural awakening as occurred within America’s underpaid underclass. Behind the plastic façade of Big Macs, footlong sandwiches and fried chicken, grows a steady growl of grumbled workers, hungry for change.
The simple question that sparked this movement was “Can you afford to live?”. The answer, both glaringly simple and obvious, is that no one can. Who can truly afford to live decent lives whilst precariously embedded in a system that routinely seeks to extract and maximise human profit at the minimum cost. Whilst multi-national fast food corporations continue to pursue unregulated profit, the people on the shop floor; the burger-flippers and the pizza makers, continue to be exposed to insecure and low paid work. Often, it’s the young who bear the brunt of this exploitation to low pay, with their age being used against them as some form of twisted rationale to pay them less tetracycline buy online uk than their more mature counterpart.
But it can be reversed, and change can happen. The newly introduced $15 minimum wage in Seattle is the tangible, living proof that once unified in collective voice, people can be the true instigators of positive change. It’s also proof that change doesn’t happen overnight, that it takes a concerted and committed effort to create change. But ultimately, change is possible. It just takes enough people to believe in it so. The ‘fight for $15’ campaign has become more than an issue regarding wages in the fast-food sector. It speaks for all workers who find themselves precariously employed. It speaks to all people, of all sexes, colours and creed, that they deserve better than the minimum. It’s about the equality of proper living wages to all, given for their endeavour to the job, rather than their age or gender.
And that’s the inspiration that we at home must take. Whilst we are separated through boundaries and borders, the same rules of the game applies. The minimum-wage, zero-hours contract employee in Scotland shares the same struggle as their counterpart in America and beyond. That’s the core of the ‘fight for $15’ campaign. That the struggle against low pay and insecure conditions is a global struggle. Workers are separated through different currency, but the price of dignity and fairness is a common currency to all. It’s through united, unified movements that transcend countries, just as easily as the fast food establishments themselves transcend countries, that will be the true driver of change.
April 15th 2015 marks a day of global solidarity with the workers of the U.S.A. In over 40 countries and with thousands of workers striking collectively for better pay and better accessibility to a trade union, the people of Scotland stand side by side with the workers of America, recognising that the people are hungry for change.