‘We can’t give up on Zero Hours Contracts just because the Tories have a majority’

Richie Venton spoke to Alan Milne, Scottish Organiser of the Bakers, Food & Allied Workers Union (BFAWU) on current events and campaigns What’s been happening lately on the campaign amongst fast food workers? We had a very strong showing on 15 April on the Hungry for Justice fast food campaign for £10 Now as a minimum of wage, an end to Zero Hours Contracts, and union organisation in the fast food restaurants. And it wasn’t just here, but across Europe and the US.

There they’ve won $15 minimum, not just in Seattle but also Los Angeles. We need to move it further on in this country. We need to keep putting across the message, raising public awareness.

We are still targeting areas, on different dates at the moment, such as McDonald’s, who are abusing the system and abusing people. They’ve been shown up for dodging taxes, so they’re getting virtually free labour, where we fund top-ups to wages because workers can’t survive, and McDonald’s walk away with all the profits.

We want to organise people in fast food restaurants and we’ve had some success, with young people joining the union. We’re still at an early phase compared with the US, but we won’t let this drop.

Where do you think the outcome of the general election leaves you, where Scotland had a landslide against the Tories, but they got won in Westminster?
Scotland certainly voted massively against the Tories, but in my opinion the SNP won’t go near the £10 minimum either, unless we push, push, push.

If they’re willing to work with the unions, then great, but we need to see what emerges. And Scotland has austerity programmes too, just like England, which we have got to really fight to stop.

The £10 minimum would solve a lot of problems in the country. It would take people out of welfare benefits and they’d contribute to society. We can’t give up on Zero Hours Contracts either, just because the Tories have a majority. We need more demos against government cuts.

The SSP is campaigning for power over the minimum wage to be devolved to the Scottish Parliament so that we can win a Scottish £10 minimum. What do you think?
I have no problem with that idea, it sounds right. Scotland could show an example to everyone else. And if people have concerns about companies moving out of Scotland, we need to look at the US, where areas have now got the $15, and it seems to work for them.

We need to use any evidence like this, where it works for people and the state. Those who argue we can’t afford £10 should remember they said the same when the minimum wage was introduced. At the time we had security guards on £1-an-hour, but those companies survived. We’ve let the minimum wage slip and we need to build it up again.

What’s your view of the Tories’ plans on anti-union laws?
The Tories will attack the unions every chance they get. That’s the kind of party they are. I was watching a programme about Churchill. Nothing’s changed since then, they still are against working people being successful, still against unions and the working class.

Their new laws on balloting would make it impossible to take industrial action. The Tories were elected with a much lower share of the vote than they expect from the unions.

It’s absolutely disgusting, totally undemocratic. We need to look at going back to workplace ballots where people put their hands up, that’s fair and reasonable. In other words, we’re heading for a dictatorship.

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