There are worse employers than McDonald’s.
The company is very keen for you to know that as it faces up to the first strike by workers at its UK outlets.
In contrast to McDonald’s, there are employers out there that don’t bother to pay any sort of premium above Britain’s minimum – sorry “national living” – wage.
There are also employers that don’t bother offering any training opportunities, as McDonald’s does.
There are employers that have refused to make any movement on the subject of zero hours contracts (McDonald’s offered staff the option of fixed hours a while back).
There are worse employers than McDonald’s. Many of them in fact.
What none of that changes is that trying to get by on the McWages paid by a McJob is extremely difficult, a point made by the striking workers, from branches in Cambridge and Crayford, who would also like more job security and recognition for unions (the Bakers Food & Allied Workers Union is involved).
Nor is their work easy.
The ads might show a cute young woman, with a punk-ish style, making wraps and smiling in a knowing way at the gauche (but in a way that’s supposed to be charming) blokes she serves.
The reality of preparing and doling out burgers and fries to pissed up punters that drool over you on a Friday night is rather less attractive.
As the workers have pointed out, a McJob does not provide a way for them to chill out while making a few quid more than they would get on the dole. It’s hard, and sometimes unpleasant.
“Get another job then,” Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells, or their right wing friends, will probably bluster at this point.
It’s easy to throw bricks on Twitter from the comfort of a nice house in Kent. It isn’t always so easy to secure alternative employment when you might want to. That was true even when Britain had a healthy economy, which the likes of Disgusted and their chums wrecked by voting for Brexit.
So instead, the strikers have chosen to do something harder still. They’ve taken a stand against a multinational behemoth.
That is an incredibly ballsy thing to do if you care to think about it.
McDonald’s has pointed out that the striking workers represent a tiny percentage of its 85,000 strong UK workforce. But that only underlines my point.
This is David & Goliath if David was facing not just one Philistine champion but 20 of them, with just a handful of gravel and no slingshot.
What you need to know about gravel is that, while it won’t kill you like a rock to the head when propelled by a sling, it can certainly sting.
The gravel our David is throwing is called “PR”. McDonald’s, unlike some of the worse employers, I mentioned, is sensitive to it.
It has had more than its fair share of problems with it in the past, and some of the wounds were self inflicted.
It’s still hard to see the company doing what the strikers want, even though it should, even though paying workers a bit more would put only maybe a few pence on the price of a burger. Or a wrap.
Business picture of the day Business picture of the day
However, they have still done something important.
They’ve got us talking about the reality of life for low wage workers in Britain again. As such, they have already won a victory of sorts.
Here’s hoping the PR weapon they have used to achieve it serves to protect them from any blowback.