In New Zealand – workers took on big business and won.
So if you want to see how a social crisis can lead to serious political action I’d urge you to look a long way south.
The story in New Zealand begins with a trade union called Unite.
Unlike the behemoth over here run by Len McCluskey just over a decade ago its Kiwi namesake was ‘a union without any members’ as Mike Treen – now its deputy head – remembers.
That changed in two stages.
First – from 2005 Treen and his colleagues went all out to recruit workers from the industries other unions weren’t touching: takeaway chains – casinos – hotels.
They did so with imaginative demotic activism.
The campaign to get union representation in the fast-food industry was called with a wink to a Morgan Spurlock film Supersizemypay.
Its highpoint came with a mass picket of burger restaurants led not by union grizzlies – but schoolkids in uniform.
After all they ate there – so why not form an alliance between customers and workers?
Telegenic unrest made for excellent union marketing.
Second came the battle over zero-hours contracts.
Two years ago Treen recalls this was a term known only by the country’s well-read – and they used it to refer to the parlous labour practices of the foggy old mother country – without recognising how widespread it was at home.
Even after years at McDonald’s Victoria Hopgood had no idea her contract – requiring her to be employed but not promising her any work – was not the norm – but a new and pernicious thing.
Once she got that and heard there was a union campaigning against it she dived in.
Crucial to this battle was the teatime TV show Campbell Live.
Imagine liberal uncle Jon Snow crossed with the accessible campaigning zeal of Esther Rantzen and you’re most of the way to the presenter John Campbell.
In 2015 his team was facing the axe – and yet it still took up the issue of employment contracts as a campaign – appointing a correspondent to work on it full time the show doing stunts on a nightly basis.
Campbell recalls: ‘The kind of people who were driving Audis to dinner parties to drink pinot noir were decrying zero hours around their dinner tables’.