By Joe Carolan, Senior Fast Food Organiser, Auckland
“Solidarity!” was the word we learned in the car parks and drive thru of Clendon McDonalds last night, as a staunch and successful union picket persuaded 80% of customers, both on foot and in car to turn around and shop elsewhere.
So successful was the picket line that even the exhortations of an anti union manager and a Head Office Regional boss were ignored with laughter. “You can’t do that” said Karl Lenden-Hitchcock, visibly concerned that the restaurant was losing hundreds of dollars in business, as family car after car turned away, honking their support for the young workers standing their ground.
Solidarity from local Clendon people gathered. The clientele of the Clendon Inn TAB turned out to look at the commotion, cheering as cars turned away from the picket, someone obviously winning a bet! One working class trooper in a high viz vest shouted out “I haven’t seen a strike like that since 1978!”. Young unemployed people, whanau members and former workers also joined their comrades in beefing up the line, making it clear that this was South Auckland versus the Multinational.
When the police came, they told us we had a right to protest. We clarified, saying we also had a right to picket, and invited them to stay and observe how a picket worked. Local delegates approached each car as it approached the drive thru, and where a queue developed, other workers worked down the line. The delegates explained why the workers were on strike- for a living wage, for secure hours, for a change in management culture and an end to bullying and favoritism. The message was electric, and the McDs customers, largely low paid working class people themselves, instinctively reacted. It was a joy to witness.
There were only three right wing lunatics, whose desire to eat burgers takes precedence over everything. One well dressed woman, dripping in jewelry, shouted at the workers to get a real job like her. “I’m a high powered worker, you losers.” she shouted. The picket line broke out in laughter.
McDonald’s better watch out for this. The working class of South Auckland are intensely loyal, as demonstrated by the Progressive Lockout all those years ago on Favona Road. The mood among workers after the victory in Clendon last night was to escalate and bring multiple stores out on strike at the same time.
Watch out for Flying Pickets soon!
All Quiet at dinnertime in the Clendon store