December 2000 saw the first “hamburgrève” in Paris, when the young, mostly casual workers at the McDo (McDonald’s) restaurant on Boulevard Saint-Germain went on strike. The next fast food chain hit by worker unrest was Pizza Hut. A leading figure in these conflicts was Abdel Mabrouki, now aged 31.
He went to work at Pizza Hut as a motorcycle delivery boy, but got demoted to washer-up because of his poor eyesight. From his corner of the kitchen Abdel plotted the way management dealt with their staff, hassling them to work faster, the corners they cut in health and safety, and hygiene. He collected stories from the staff, dispensed advice and finally agreed to be the CGT (Confédération Générale du Travail) union rep. In 1996 he had the honour, he says, to organise the first strike in his workplace. He has been sacked twice by Pizza Hut and won his job back. He still works there, a veteran in a business where workers “don’t make old bones”.