Mar 18, 2002
The following article was translated from an article in the February 22nd issue of Lutte Ouvriere (Workers Struggle) in France.
Last October 24, the employees of the McDonald’s at Strasbourg-St. Denis in Paris began a strike for the return of five of their comrades who had been fired. McDonald’s pretended the five had stolen money from their cash drawers. The real reason was that these five had called for a strike in solidarity with a union activist who had been threatened with firing for demanding an election for shop stewards and trying to present himself as a candidate in these elections. At the end of nearly four months of struggle, the employees finally obtained their basic demand.
On February 2, at a demonstration of support, the strikers at McDonald’s were able to see how much sympathy their movement had won. About a thousand people demonstrated on a nearby boulevard. Several dozen young workers from the fast food industry led the demonstration with a banner, “Against layoffs and against the anti-union repression at McDonald’s and elsewhere.”
During nearly four months of conflict, the strikers displayed great determination. There was never any question of stopping their movement before all five of the fired workers got back their jobs. Three of the five were finally given their jobs back by different government offices regulating labor. But the two others remained out on the street.
Finally, after several meetings between the strikers’ representatives and the boss at McDonald’s, the other two got their jobs back, maintaining their seniority and their pay as assistant managers. However, these latter two have not been allowed to return to the cash drawers nor are they able to hold the keys to the restaurant.
The agreement made at the end of the conflict gave the strikers wages equal to 45% of what they had lost while on strike. In addition, they are supposed to get full wages while the restaurant is being restored – which is soon to start.
On the 15th of February, at a general assembly of strikers, the agreement was submitted to a vote and was signed by that evening. The tenacity of the strikers had paid off.
One striker during the general assembly insisted that their common struggle had allowed the workers of McDonald’s to reinforce their solidarity, and this will be indispensable when they go back to work and have to come up against the boss each day.