BY DOMINIC WIGHTMAN
Yesterday’s McStrike outside McDonald’s Headquarters and at various branches of the fast-food restaurant were declared as the first ever in the UK by McDonald’s workers. This is not true – there were employee sit-down strikes in the 80’s and 90’s and most of those who “striked” yesterday were protesters holding aloft Labour Party banners.
Some of the protesters present were obviously first-timers as they posted naïve tweets such as this one which (Country Squire’s censors have now deleted the number plates for reposting) showed staff Mercedes and an Audi outside McDonald’s HQ with number plates showing for all of Twitter to see. Labour not losing its blatant covetousness, it seems.
The McStrike focus was principally on union rights, zero hours contracts and the 2017 minimum wage, which pays £7.50 per hour to those who are 25+, £7.05 to those aged between 21-24, £5.60 to those who are 18-20 and £4.05 per hour to those who are under 18.
Labour’s John McDonnell’s paw prints were all over the strike – a strike the youth vote which propels Corbynism will lap up in Labour’s current fiction of a New Britain being some kind of earthly paradise where Chicken Legends from McNationalised (or McDonnell’s perhaps) are free to all workers after their hour of work a day. But, actually, the strike is utterly pointless. As McDonald’s no longer needs the young people who are striking.
McDonald’s can operate perfectly well – and does in some restaurant locations – through touch screens and automated cooking and serving facilities where teens are non-existent, except on the buying end of the terminals.
The conclusions of the McStrikers are emotional. “Our children being ripped off by greedy multinationals”, “McDonald’s made $10 billion profit in 2016” and “McDonald’s is making us all fat and burdening our NHS”. That’s why Labour are playing the McStrike card. They do heart not head. That’s what works for them even though they know full well that they are proven heart-breakers when eventually Brits let them govern – their whimsy forever clashing with inconvenient reality.
If the McStrikers were being honest, they would be reaching the conclusion that McDonalds employing dozens of staff in most of its UK restaurants is in effect an act of charity for those workers, who would otherwise be unemployed if McDonald’s automated and replaced them (which McDonald’s could have done years ago). The striking employees are literally biting off the hand that feeds them. The political activist Labourites are merely using them as pawns in an attempt to be seen to be on the side of the worker, when in fact they are giving the employer an excuse to tighten its belt and mechanise.
Waving the wand of restrictionist legislation has always seemed attractive to short-cutters. To idealists like socialists. To Marxists like McDonnell. The wise man knows that behind restrictionist legislation lies poverty and worse, likely for some marginal employer and his hard-working staff who supply ketchup holders to the McDonald’s machine. Similarly, if the child sweatshops of the Third World were to close their doors today, millions would be condemned overnight to starvation.
Are third world sweatshops a good thing? No. Are teens on £4.05 an hour working in McDonald’s a positive facet of 2017 Britain? In some ways yes, but in most ways no.
Sweatshops die off as fast as opportunities for better jobs develop and as quickly as capital supply per worker augments to necessary levels. The only legislation required to create that base are laws that provide for personal security and protect private property, creating an environment of saving and investment – a healthy market. These are basic lessons of economics which McDonnell’s new (don’t laugh) Progressive Economics Group would do well to learn if they consider themselves anything more than theoretical economists.
The McStrike is utterly pointless. Anyone with a brain can see that. The way the strike is directed is flawed because it’s politically calculated by Labour – it’s not honest. McDonald’s can respond as it wants to secure its profits for shareholders (amongst whom are the relatives of the strikers, who rely on those profits from McDonald’s and similar multinational giants for pension income). Expect a slew of unemployed McDonald’s workers if it persists, which it won’t.
The only way to inspire McDonald’s to pay more for its staff is if the McStrike restarted as an honest McDonald’s boycott. “Do not buy McDonald’s food because it pays our kids too little for flipping its burgers” might work but I really doubt it now that Labour has shown its face behind this stunt (like finding a rat’s tail in one’s quarter pounder). The only way to change multi nationals is by market rejection – Labour despises the word “market” so focuses, ineffectively, on “worker power” instead.
There will be more McStrikes over coming years, which will be mere footnotes in the era of pre-automation. Multinationals like McDonalds see this. The savvy see this. Labour, of course, like Canute, try to resist the unstoppable tide. The teens on £4.05 an hour should be looking instead to create the jobs of tomorrow we can’t even see yet, not pursuing the covetous and dangerous thinkspeak of past failed socialist generations which have left tens of millions dead and still kill across the world today.
Expect more screens than you used to see in the Scottish Restaurant when you pop in for a Sausage McMuffin. The closer Labour get to power, the more screens you will see appearing across many businesses with branches in Britain who fear McDonnell’s Socialist Armageddon.