• McDonald's workers fight for their rights

McDonald's workers fight for their rights (Photo : Reuters)

McDonald's employees around the United States have 28 complaints against McDonald's over a multitude of workplace hazards increasingly endangering their health and safety.

Among the many hazards cited by the complainants are frequent on-the-job injuries (especially burns from hot, splattering grease); ineffective or unavailable safety equipment; pressure from managers to work at unsafe speed; a widespread lack of safety gloves; burns from cleaning grills kept on during cleaning; a lack of training for working hot fryers and disposing of hot grease.

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The growing number of complaints was filed over the last two weeks with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) against McDonald's locations in 19 cities.

The employees said first aid was lackadaisical at best in many cases, according to the Christian Science Monitor. Martisse Campbell, a Philadelphia employee, told media one of his co-workers, badly burned by grease, was told by a manager to "put mayonnaise on it, you'll be good."

Protesters said the problem isn't limited to McDonald's.

A survey of 1,426 fast food workers released yesterday, March 16, and commissioned by the advocacy group, the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (COSH), found that 87 percent had been injured on the job in the past year. Among those, 79 percent suffered burns, many of them multiple times. Some 58 percent reported multiple burns, reported RT.com.

Given that the fast-food industry employs 3.6 million workers, that would come to two million people injured on the job, says COSH executive director Mary Vogel.

"We have to do a lot better than offering workers a packet of mayonnaise after they get burned," Vogel said.

The charges against McDonald's are the latest action in the "Fight for $15," a two-year-old protest movement advocating higher wages and better treatment of fast food industry's workers. It's also part of a larger effort by Fight for $15 to hold McDonald's legally accountable for the actions of its franchisees.

Ninety percent of McDonald's locations are independently owned. Workers in the fast food industry have long complained this setup shields McDonald's from responsibility when franchisees break labor rules.

The Fight for $15 movement has already filed lawsuits alleging illegal payment practices against franchisees and made accusations of race-based firings and harassment.

"It's become painfully clear that unsafe conditions go hand-in-hand with the industry's low wages." Said Fight for $15 organizing director Kendall Fells. "It's a problem that only McDonald's can fix, and the time to fix it is now."

McDonald's said it would review the allegations.

"It is important to note that these complaints are part of a larger strategy orchestrated by activists targeting our brand and designed to generate media coverage," said Heidi Barker Sa Shekhem, a McDonald's spokeswoman.