Fast food workers took to the streets Tuesday to denounce the dangerous working conditions that lead to severe burns and other injuries.
The protest, held outside a McDonald’s on Fifth Avenue near 33rd Street, came one day after workers in 19 cities filed a Occupational Safety and Health Administration complaint against the fast food giant, citing hazardous working conditions and lack of protective equipment and access to first aid.
“McDonald’s and its independent franchisees are committed to providing safe working conditions for employees in the 14,000 McDonald’s Brand U.S. restaurants. We will review these allegations,” the company said in a statement sent to Metro.
Demonstrators carried large signs depicting the injuries, and chanted “Been burnt! Been hurt! The bosses tell us get back to work.” Many workers said their managers have told them to put burn cream — or condiments like mustard — on the burns.
A photo of Marie Yolande Jean Louis’s badly burned forearm was on one of those signs.
Jean Louis, who has worked for McDonald’s on and off for the past six years, said she got the burn while cleaning a grill at the Suffern store where she works.
“I was washing the grill, and it was really hot, because that’s where the meat is cooked, and my arm went up against it and I was burnt,” Jean Louis said,
Jean Louis said Medicaid covered her doctor’s visit, and she had to miss seven days of work.
“I thought they would have taken a report and got me to see a doctor,” Jean Louis said. “Nothing was done.”
“It has to stop,” said Elizabeth Rene, who says she sees a co-worker burned nearly every day.
Rene, who lives in Brooklyn and works at a 28th Street McDonald’s said the worst injury she’s gotten during her two years on the job wasn’t a burn, but a big cut from tripping on a sewer hole and falling into a locker.
“It took off the skin on my arm and left a scar,” Rene said. “My manager basically told me to put some burn cream on it, you’ll be okay. He said you can go to the hospital, but you’ll have to pay for your own ambulance. It seemed like he didn’t care, which was my main concern.”
A report released Monday by Hart Research Associates found 79 percent of fast food workers burned themselves in the past year, and usually more than once, and 36 percent of employees said they didn’t have access to a stocked first aid kit.
McDonald’s has been roiled by multiple controversies this past year, coming under attack from activists over the minimum wage as well as the nutritional content of its meals.
“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,” the company pointed out in its statement to Metro.