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Nati Harnik
Fight for 15

McDonald's worker claims he was told to put mayonnaise on a grease burn

Another was told to put mustard on a burn that required morphine.

MCDONALD’S WORKERS IN the US have filed complaints over what they call hazardous working conditions at the fast food restaurants.

Workers at McDonald’s in America are fighting for a $15 an hour minimum wage and staff in 19 cities have now filed complaints over a lack of protective equipment and other workplace hazards.

Staff made the move as they try to pressure the fast-food behemoth into allowing them unionise. The push is being spearheaded by the Service Employees International Union and began more than two years ago. Already, it has included protests around the country and lawsuits alleging workers weren’t given their rightful pay.

The burns and other hazards were detailed in complaints announced yesterday and filed with the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration in recent weeks.

Workers say that there is a “persistent lack of gloves for handling hot equipment” and say they’ve been burned while cleaning grills that have to be kept on.

One worker says he was told by a manager to, “put mayonnaise on it, you’ll be good.”

Fast Food Protests Miami AP / Press Association Images AP / Press Association Images / Press Association Images

Another worker alleges that she was told to put mustard on a burn that ended up requiring months of treatment and a morphine drip.

“The managers at the store constantly push us to work fast,” ThinkProgress reports Brittney Berry, who has worked in a Chicago store since 2011, as saying.

“I’ve been repeatedly burned on the job.”

One day she she slipped and caught her arm on a hot grill.

“The burn almost burned my entire forearm, and as I fell I twisted my wrist, causing nerve damage I still have today,” she said.

“I worked through tears from the pain.”

She claims her manager told her to put mustard on the injury, but once she was brought to hospital, she was put on morphine.

The complaints also detail a lack of training for handling hot fryers and slipping on wet floors.

In a statement, McDonald’s says the company “and its independent franchisees are committed to providing safe working conditions for employees”, and will review the allegations.

Chicken medicine PA Wire / Press Association Images PA Wire / Press Association Images / Press Association Images

McDonald’s and other fast-food restaurants have consistently said that they are not responsible for the pay of staff at franchised restaurants.

Kendall Fells, organising director for campaign group Fight for $15, said the injuries at franchised and company-owned restaurants mostly came about because under staffing and employees being told to work too quickly — both of which he said were the result of a computer system that tracks sales and staffing metrics.

That computer system has been responsible for denial of breaks and “wage theft”, organisers say.

In decline

The allegations come at a bad time for McDonald’s.

Earlier this month, they revealed sales were down once again. Sales in February in the US and Asia were down 4% and 4.4% respectively compared with February 2014.

CEO Donald Thompson left the company in January and McDonald’s is under threat in the US not only from healthier options, but from fast food chains like Shake Shack and Chipotle, which McDonald’s itself owns.

McDonald’s puts many of its problems, particularly in Japan, to “broad based consumer perception issues”.

Read: McDonald’s did not discriminate against an Irish woman because of her nationality

Read: Down, down, down – McDonald’s sales continue to spiral

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