Ex-CEO says McDonald's can replace striking employees with robots

10,000 protesters are expected at the company's HQ today

As thousands of workers plan to protest in the US at McDonald's annual shareholder meeting in Chicago later today, the company's former boss has suggested that it might be more cost-effective to replace disgruntled employees with robots.

Ed Rensi says that the introduction of a national $15 per hour minimum wage would lead to "job loss like you could not believe."

"I was at the National Restaurant Show yesterday and if you look at the robotic devices that are coming into the restaurant industry – it’s cheaper to buy a $35,000 robotic arm than it is to hire an employee who’s inefficient making $15 an hour bagging french fries," he continued, speaking to Fox News.

Mr Rensi led the firm during the 1990s, he says that the protest movement which has targeted McDonald's is politically motivated, "It’s a theater of protests to capture votes for the Democratic party. It’s absolute nonsense. It’s a sham and it’s destroying the middle class in this country."

Crowds of up to 10,000 are expected at the demonstration organised by Fight for $15.

Some workers at McDonald's HQ have been advised to work from home, and the building has been subject to temporary closures.

"Home care, child care, fast-food, airport, and university workers are marching together with a clear message: McJobs cost us all. It’s time for McDonald’s to pay people enough to live – and stop passing off costs onto taxpayers," the group said. Its Facebook page has over a quarter of a million 'likes.'

The company reported a 35% increase in profits during the first quarter of 2016 - this was its third quarter of growth after an extended period of sale declines.