Sisters in the struggle at Pamnure McDonald’s
As the McStrike campaign spreads out from the city centre actions to working class Auckland suburbs, the Unite union has been deploying a variety of tactics that have reaped successes in recent weeks.
On Friday, June 7th, all the crew went on strike in Panmure McDonalds, led by their delegate Michelle Hooper, leaving management to run shift alone. At first, they were shy and hesitant, but this meant that pretty soon the managers were swamped by a huge queue of customers. However, as they grew more confident talking to customers and drive-thru cars about the reasons for their strike, the custom dropped considerably, and the Panmure strikers had a huge success rate in turning away business.
The Panmure strike was a joy to see – working class men and women of many cultural backgrounds, standing up against low pay and insecure hours, confident that their cause was right. They returned to work transformed, happy and strong, and itching for their next lightning strike! Their action was planned internally to hit stores profits effectively, and they contacted Union head office for support only hours before they were due to start their picket. This was the textbook grassroots strike.
A fortnight beforehand, a flying squad of union delegates from stores as far apart as Queen Street, Quay street, Manukau, Clendon and Airport drive-thru descended unannounced on Manurewa McDonalds, joining the delegate Hayden Blatch on an action that targeted peak hour Friday evening traffic. The flying squad held a double picket line, which turned away 80% of customers, costing the store thousands of dollars in lost sales. By the end of the action, the drive-thru was completely empty, and the police had left the picket line to its own devices for the last hour, after union marshalls made complaints to the sergeant about rogue policemen interfering in the rights of the picket to approach and persuade customers to shop elsewhere.
Empty drive-thru at Manurewa McDonald’s
Both these tactics, the no-warning Lightning Strike and the Flying Squad, will be deployed in the weeks to come in the suburbs of Glen Innes, Manukau, Otara, New Lynn, Grey Lynn, Greenlane, Mangere and elsewhere. And each time, the numbers and confidence of the mcDonalds workers running their own campaign will increase.